I have been working on a memoir very off and on for years. I will soon be ready to put the e-version out in the world though the print version will take more time. I’ll let you know.
It has taken so long because it is a complicated story. It’s called The Dream Matrix: A Memoir of Connection. How do we actually experience mystical connection with other people and with the Divine? This story is about several threads of my own experience with that, especially communal dreaming. This is what I call night dreams that cross boundaries, becoming a conversation with and for a friend or a community, often moving in the realm of divine mystery. The memoir contains many examples of such dreams and the art of interpreting them.
Communal dreaming harks back to stories in the Bible—Joseph, Jacob, Daniel, and many others dreamed for a community and interpreted the divine messages of dreams. And I consider this story part of my personal “Bible story.” It has also spawned sacred stories for other people and several communities, including the church of which I have been a member for more than 30 years and even the environmental policy community.
Every time—every time—I take this story up to try to finish it, it goes into action again, creating new chapters. That is, I start having dreams again and they take on a communal character. On the one hand this confirms the basic truth of the story but on the other, it’s frustrating. The story keeps squirming out of control, declaring that it has no end. Nevertheless, I’ve limited the memoir to two such periods in my life, ten years apart.
This month as I have been working on the book it has happened again.
Church has been a theme of my life in January. My husband and I are saying goodbye to our longtime Chicago church and becoming members of the church we’ve been attending in our new community 100 miles east of Chicago. I am also helping establish ties between this congregation and a congregation in Kinshasa, DR Congo.
That is, I am transferring church membership and pursuing church-to-church relationships. When you put it that way it sounds dry and institutional, and we churchy Christians often speak in such cryptic, neutral language. We even act as if these were decisions of the head, ones that can be worked out in logic and meetings. But the heart speaks in dreams.
One day last week we met with our new pastor to discuss membership. The same evening I attended a meeting about the Congo relationship. That night I had a pair of dreams about two flocks of very large, beautiful birds. One flock looked like sandhill cranes—birds I associate with the Midwest—but they were in Africa. The other flock was a gorgeous variety of flying ostriches—birds associated with Africa—but they were landing at a set of church retreat buildings in the US, bringing astonishing beauty to a rather drab, institutional center.
I welcomed these dreams as transcendent gifts. They confirmed the rightness of my decision to join a new “flock.” They also symbolized the exchange, the relationship of these beautiful flocks from different cultures and continents. I may tell the dream next Sunday as my faith testimony when I join the church. Who knows? New Bible stories may unfold.