God, beyond our dreams,
you have stirred in us a memory;
you have placed your pow’rful
spirit in the hearts of humankind.
All around us we have known you,
all creation lives to hold you.
In our living and our dying
we are bringing you to birth.
Bernadette Farrell, 1990
This beautiful hymn by present day hymnographer and composer Bernadette Farrell speaks vividly of the importance of honoring our dreams. It is not just about receiving a dream and remembering it, but also about what we do with it. Dreamwork is a conscious, intentional response to a dream, state Savary, Berne and Kaplan Williams(1984, p. 5). Working with our dreams furthers our call to holiness and wholeness, and deepens our relationship with God, of which this hymn reminds us. God stirs in us that call to holiness and wholeness, and invites us to a deep, meaningful relationship with the Divine.
As we celebrate the Feast of the Epiphany, we encounter one of these stirring dreams surrounding the story of the Magi –those distinguished foreigners described in the Gospel of Matthew who visit Jesus after birth, bringing gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. The Magi are familiar in traditional accounts of the nativity, though are only mentioned directly in the Gospel of Matthew, appointed for the Feast of the Epiphany.
After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, "Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”
After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshipped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.
New International Version -- Matthew 2: 1-2; 7-12
Dreams come for our health and wholeness, and to tell us things that we do not already know. In this prophetic dream – one that comes to guide us, the Magi are warned that they should not go back to Herod and should go home by another route. Prophetic dreams can be experienced by us all and can occur at any time – sometimes they can be blurred by many symbols, and other times they can be very direct messages (from God) as we see in this passage from Matthew.
So, as we move into 2023, may we first be aware of our dreams – even if we only catch a symbol or two – and then decide what our conscious and intentional plan for working with our dreams might be.
In the meantime, may our God beyond all dreams continue to stir in us the many messages and opportunities given through dreams.
May we hear and accept our call to holiness and wholeness as we work to deepen our relationship with God, the Divine.
Savary, L.M., Berne, P.H., & Kaplan Williams, S. (1984). Dreams and spiritual growth: A Christian approach to
dreamwork. Paulist Press, New York, NY.