They cause us to invest in schemes of often-fruitless endeavors. We wake up from them in a foggy muddle to face their opposite. Reality.
Yet, we still have them. We want them. Maybe we even need them.
Is it wrong to dream? Should we believe in our dreams? No is the answer to both questions, I think. Because I do think we should believe our dreams.
Biblical dreams often predicted the future as well as a reality check. It mattered little what human plans were put into place. Those dreams were always fulfilled.
Joseph’s brothers may have been angry at his prediction that they would bow to him like sheaves of wheat. But, throwing him down a well and selling him only paved his journey to Egypt where he became second in line to Pharaoh. The brothers would have to bow before their brother to ask for grain during the famine. They would have to supplicate for forgiveness, too. (See Genesis 37, 39-45)
Nebuchadnezzar may have doubted Daniel’s interpretation of his dream. Until he grew hair like feathers, claws like a bird, and went mad. Maybe if he had listened and not taken credit for his kingdom. But, then, the dream had predicted he would do just that. Even so, the dream revealed his renewal. In the end, he knew from where his kingdom had come. (See Daniel 4)
What about our dreams today? Are they always fulfilled?
Some would argue the days of prophesy have passed, and we have no need to interpret our dreams as any more than what they are. I’m inclined to agree. But, I do think our dreams are a manifestation of our subconscious fears and desires. A reality check about our thought lives may well-come from a dream.
A reality check about our life ambitions may also reveal the fulfillment of our dreams.
My 6’6″ son will never be an NBA All-Star. He isn’t the center for the high school team nor did he play for them. But, the reality check is that he has a better outcome than an NBA player.
An NBA player hopes to play past mid-thirties. My son can play with this team into his fifties and sixties as long as he is able-bodied. An NBA team may or may not win a division let alone a national title. But, my son’s basketball team won first place in their regional division yesterday. An NBA player may play with the same team for an entire career, but the statistics are stacked toward at least one trade. My son can play for this team for as long as he chooses.
The funny thing is an NBA player can’t play on my son’s team either. Neither can I. My son and his teammates have a unique qualification that makes them eligible.
They have special needs.
Do I dream about my son being an NBA basketball player? No. I live the reality that my son is a basketball player.
I still have dreams. I want them. I need them.
They make the reality checks more fulfilling.
“You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”
from The Velveteen Rabbit
Whenever I read aloud from this portion of The Velveteen Rabbit, I slow down my words, emphasizing each truth like they are melting chocolate morsels. In context, this is part of a dialogue between two imaginary characters, the Skin Horse and the Velveteen Rabbit. In symbol, this is a philosophical–even spiritual–revelation stated in elegant, profound prose.
“You become. It takes a long time.”
Do we ever fully realize our individual impact on others? By the time we “become,” we are often considered past tense. If we are fortunate, we see smiles or hear words of appreciation beforehand. Most likely, it is more fortunate to be oblivious. Because in enduring the time it takes to “become,” one of two things happens. We become more prideful of our accomplishments or–as this quotation describes–we become more humble. To realize our impact inserts pride and negates the fully Real humility without pretense. So, along with the potential of past-tense status, only the humble–through experiencing humiliation–fulfill the prerequisites for “becoming.”
“That’s why it doesn’t often happen to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept.”
We cringe at the thought of being fragile, edgy, over-sensitive people. Yet, most of us have at least a chip, a point, or an antique notion we wish to protect. Maybe it is when we are willing to reveal our flaws, acquiesce our opinion, or share our idiosyncrasies that we move closer to being Real.
“Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby.”
The assumption of this statement is to be Real is to be old. Yet, the Skin Horse chose to use the word “generally.” There are exceptions to the age assumption. Many of the most Real people I know are children, especially ones who have faced trauma early in life. Possessing the most important word in this statement outranks the age requirement. That word is bald-faced, eyes-wide-open, flexible, come-as-you-are unconditional love.
“But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”
Seeing the ugly redeemed is a miraculous occurrence. Even within this children’s story, illness and abandonment lead to the Velveteen Rabbit’s ultimate goal. He becomes Real because…
a real tear forms a flower and a fairy turns him into a real rabbit.
Well…yes, but there is more to be understood from this children’s classic.
He becomes Real because of the boy’s belief.
He becomes Real because he lives his purpose even though it means being left outside in the bracken and twisted up in sickbed sheets.
He becomes Real because he returns after being discarded and replaced.
He becomes Real because of what his real tear of sorrow proves.
He loved first.
Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble.