Who are you when no one's looking?
Who are you when no one's looking?

SPIRITUAL MATTERS: ‘We dream a dream’

“All men dream - but not equally.” This was an insight that T.E. Lawrence once mooted – though in today’s climate, we should rephrase it slightly before adding the next bit: “Everyone dreams – but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds awake to the day to find it was all vanity.”

Ah yes! Vanity aptly describes many dreams when the measured meaning meted out by the Oxford dictionary is adopted: “Vanity: Unsubstantial or futile nature; unreal or idle thing; empty display” it opines.

Nocturnal dreams can certainly be all of this, as well as weird and confusing. Upon waking, we may well wonder what those dreams were all about – unless, like me, you’re flat out remembering what was - a microsecond before – quite vivid.

My wife often recounts in the morning, the dreams she’s had during the night. And though to me they make little sense, on the rare occasions I actually manage to remember something I’ve dreamt, there do exist a few logical elements to the tattered smattering of reality that swept swiftly and silently across my sleep-laden brain. Usually, but not always!

Many dreams leave us frustrated and anxious for they seldom impart anything of real value. Having said that, I’m aware that a few people will claim to be able to interpret our nocturnal ramblings! Good luck with that!

T. E. Lawrence added further insight to the quotation cited above as he continued: “But the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for the many act out their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible …”

This is a statement I do find comprehensible, and convincingly illustrated by the following true story – recounted by Bill Hybels in his book “Who You Are When No-One’s Looking”.

Jimmy was playing after dinner while mum and dad were absorbed with various jobs. So it was later than usual when mum looked at the clock, realised it was very late and ordered Jimmy upstairs to bed. Unusually, Jimmy complied without protest. An hour or so later, his mother came up to check on him. To her surprise, she found her son staring quietly out of his window at the moonlit scenery. “What are you doing, Jimmy?” “I’m looking at the moon, Mummy.” “Well, it’s time to go to bed now.” As the boy settled down, he said: “Mummy, one day I’m going to walk on the moon”.

Who could have known that the boy in whom that dream was implanted would survive a near fatal motorbike crash which broke almost every bone in his body? Who would have thought that 32 years later James Irwin would actually step onto the moon’s surface - just one of a handful of human beings to have done so?

Dreams have played an important role in the development of the world and progressed many highly significant achievements. Throughout biblical history, God has communicated with people through dreams. Jacob, Abraham, Joseph, Daniel, Mary, Joseph, Peter, Paul – the list goes on and on. So it’s clear that dreams, and certain more contemporary dreamers like the late Martin Luther King, have played an incredibly important part in promoting healthy societies around the world.

God has dreams too! He dreams that his vision for the world will become a reality! And there are many of us who share that dream for we believe that in this lies the key to continued hope for a just and love-centric world!

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