i) the desire to jam as many dreams as possible into a nap.
ii) a morning meal made out of dreams/visions/nightmares, like something from Waking Life.
iii) a disciplined fast of one's dreaming capabilities.
In my case, the third option is the one I'm speaking out of these days. Let me share with you why.
As many people know, I was helping lead an urban partnership in Hamilton last week, in which students spent a week in urban environments hearing and seeing stories of how the kingdom is being lived out in this context. There was an active element to it as we helped serve meals at a drop in, ran a clothing give away, ran after school programs in low-income neighbourhoods, and so forth.
While many of the students were deeply affected by these experiences, for me the most moving moment was hearing a sermon at one of the churches we partnered with. It was the Mother's Day service at this church, but rather than share a message filled with platitudes and exaltations toward the women in our lives, the pastor at this church spoke out of the story of Moses' mother, as she was forced to give up her beloved son. It was a story of pain and brokenness. At the end of the sermon, the pastor asked everyone to pray for mothers who are forced to give up their children, for mothers who take in others' children, and, here's the controversial part, for the Children's Aid Society workers who are often vilified in this community. It was a stunning comment in that community
Afterwards, when chatting with the pastor, he told me he had been crying while prepping the sermon and fighting back tears while speaking, because in that last week there had been a mother in the community who had had her children taken from her for the final time; they were being put up for adoption. This was the wind-knocked-out-of-you-moment of the week for me. What I came to realize is that this man knew his community, and knew them well. In love he stepped down into their pain, and then invited them into something greater, something freeing: forgiveness and love.
I am still unpacking the significance of this interaction, but its applicability became abundantly apparent to me a bit later on. For those who know me, they know I spend the majority of my time dreaming and thinking about big ideas. Unfortunately, I have noticed that because my mind switches into dream-mode at a word's notice, I can often zone out in conversation with someone, and miss out on the experience that is taking place right in front of me. It's rude and offensive to the person who is being vulnerable and open in front of me. What's more unfortunate is that I'm pretty sure this dynamic has shaped the majority of my stay in Hamilton.
Twin this experience with a large measure of anxiety I've had recently in not being able to know what is going to happen next as I move to Toronto. I've found myself dreaming about what it might be like, but this always seems fruitless because those dreams have nothing to root themselves in. I'm not in Toronto yet. The place is still a mystery to me.
So, I've decided to fast from dreaming for a while. I'm going to stop letting my mind run loose, and I'm going to open my ears so I can listen to what's happening in Toronto, what's happening in people's lives, and get to know the city and people who will become a part of my new home. I am going to be attentive. Perhaps when I start to actually know the people and the city, I'll be able to love them in their brokenness, and love them into something greater. I can only hope that others will get to know me and extend the same. Once I know the story, then the dreaming will return, and I hope and believe that those dreams will far surpass the ones I'm laying down.