Dreams

I’m not one to remember my dreams often, but I woke this morning with a clear memory of a dream. In the dream, it was time for worship to start and I was struggling to adjust a device that controlled the temperature in the room. The device had extremely small switches and my fingers were too large to use the switches effectively. The device was inconveniently located on a pipe in the ceiling and I was working standing on a chair with a flashlight in my mouth to be able to see. As I worked, the start of the church service was being delayed.

First of all, my imagination has stretched met worries quite a bit of distance from reality. The heating controls in our church are managed by a computer. When we make adjustments, we sit in a comfortable chair at a desk and use a computer keyboard with which my fingers are very comfortable. Furthermore, I and not the primary user of the heat controls. I have two trained administrative assistants who can be given that job while I do other things.

Although I occasionally have dreams about being late for worship, it is not something that I do. I generally arrive at the church a couple of hours before worship.I like to make sure everything is in place and that I am ready for the task. Last night when my worship role was to lead a simple home dedication for Habitat for Humanity, I arrived nearly an hour early and had plenty of time without feeling rushed. That’s the way I like it and that is my usual style when it comes to worship.

Dreams, however, reveal aspects of your personality which might be hidden. People have known that the language of dreams is not direct or immediately obvious for many generations. Many scholars believe that the oldest stories of what we now call the Old Testament are not the ones that appear in the beginning of the book of Genesis, but rather an origin story that appears in Deuteronomy. That story begins, “A wandering Aramean was my ancestor; he went down into Egypt and lived there as an alien, few in number, and there he became a great nation, mighty and populous.” That story, which the book commands people to recite in response to inquiries about the origins of our people, begins with a reference to Joseph, who, from other texts we know to have had skill as an interpreter of dreams. His ability to interpret dreams was responsible for freeing him from prison and garnering favor with Pharaoh.

We’ve been talking about our dreams for many generations.

Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud were pioneers in the modern field of dream analysis. In the century since their time thousands of books have been written about the topic. There are books that purport to be dictionaries of dream symbols, doctoral thesis of eager students, and even a World Dream Atlas to which Facebook users contributed. Dream analysis is used by many cognitive therapists in their work with clients. Psychologists often incorporate dream interpretation into their practice, usually focusing on concepts identified by Jung and Freud. Therapies that focus attention on dreams and their interpretation are based on a belief that dreams reveal our deepest truths but that the language of dreams, a language of symbols, is not obvious.

I’m not convinced that the meaning of many dreams is deeply hidden.

It doesn’t surprise me that I dream about being late for worship. It is an easily understandable anxiety that I have. I believe that worship is vital to the life of the community and I feel a deep obligation to facilitate worship in a manner that is respectful of this who participate. I care about getting it right. My brain is probably working on those concepts when I sleep as well as when I am awake.

When our children headed off to school and again later when they went off to college, my wife had dreams in which a baby was lost and we were searching for the lost baby. I don’t think it requires many sessions of deep psychoanalysis to draw meaning from those dreams. From the moment we meet them, we parents have a concern about losing our children. Then we raise them to become independent adults and to go out into the world. Our feelings are mixed and come to the surface when they encounter major life changes.

One of our college professors kept an extensive dream journal. He recorded his dreams upon waking for decades. He collected volumes and volumes of recorded dreams. He reported that when he began the process he might remember one or two dreams a week. Soon he was remembering four or five dreams each morning. He never published his journals. As far as I know he never shared them with another person. He would occasionally refer to them in his teaching. Late in life he developed dementia and his family helped him to move away from our college town to be closer to them and receive care. He passed away several years ago. I’ve wondered what happened to his journals. Are they still being kept somewhere? Are they available for study? I suspect that there is a good doctoral thesis inside of those journals.

I doubt, however, that they would reveal much about our teacher that is currently unknown. He was a pretty straightforward guy. He had a brilliant mind for academic study. He was an accomplished pianist and organist. He had a loving marriage and family. He was active in the church and served in many leadership positions. Recording his dreams never got in the way of his contributing to the community in many ways.

This journal isn’t likely to become a dream journal. I might occasionally be surprised to remember a dream. I might even find out something about myself and what concerns are before me. After all it is pretty obvious that the small controls and the difficulty and seeing reflect my anxiety about falling behind with technology and losing capabilities as I age. I don’t think I need a psychologist to see what is going on. I suspect, however, that I will continue to go on with my life ignoring the majority of my dreams and being happy. I don’t think there’s a PhD thesis in my nocturnal thoughts.

Copyright (c) 2018 by Ted E. Huffman. I wrote this. If you would like to share it, please direct your friends to my web site. If you'd like permission to copy, please send me an email. Thanks!