When I was a little girl, I cradled my baby dolls gently, rocking them and talking sweetly to them, dreaming of some day having real ones of my own.
When I was a child, I would help my mother in the kitchen and dream of having a home and family of my own.
When I was a teenager, I dreamed of being loved enough that I would become some handsome man’s wife and the mother of his children.
When I was 22 and sporting my hard-won Bachelor’s degree, I was married on a sunny June afternoon in the large, beautiful chapel of the university that had granted it to me. And I dreamed of living happily every after.
I was 25 and 28 when I gave birth to my two sons, and I dreamed of being the perfect mother, as my mother had been.
When I was 33, I lived through a clinical depression after a miscarriage, and life changed in ways I could never have anticipated. The safe and logical sequence of my years were interrupted as I began to notice that my dreams were changing. Insistently so.
In my 30’s, I went back to school for a Masters degree in vocal music. In my 40’s, I answered a calling to pastoral ministry, experienced the pain of divorce and watched my two sons leave the nest for some years in the military.
In my 50’s, I married my soul mate and lived out my pastoral calling in several ways – and retired for the first time.
In my 60’s I learned how to fish again and took up Norwegian decorative painting (rosemaling), completed the restoration of a large century-old Swedish immigrant log house, and became part of my extroverted husband’s enormous family and friends. And was dismayed by the appearance of Type 2 diabetes.
In my 70’s, I was both partner and nurse as my husband’s health deteriorated rapidly. When I was 72, he died. And some dreams went with him.
It took four and a half years to find the new dreams that would be worth following. This blog is the consequence.
Every dream at every stage was powerful and filled with light. And every dream turned out to be different from anything I had imagined. Sometimes they were better, sometimes they were worse. Each one that was given up left its lessons behind. Each one that was realized, grew my capacity for a deep and abiding gratitude. Amazingly, this profound gratitude has grown so deep and so surprising that it has become a new reason for living.
My dreams now seem to be among the most profound of all. Perhaps because my end grows closer and closer and is very real, not a dream at all. They are the dreams of most of us elders, I think, but that does not take away their power one whit.
I dream…that I will remain reasonably healthy for as long as possible. Enough to remain independent for years to come. Is this not a given? I mean, really.
I dream…that if my health deteriorates enough to need to change my circumstances, I will have built a store of resilience that brings me through the changes with some measure of equanimity and acceptance. (*equanimity: mental calmness/composure/evenness of temper, especially in a difficult situation/self-possession)
I dream…that my mind will serve me well enough to keep writing. If not the blog forever, then even just completing my autobiography for my family will be enough. (There is still SO MUCH to say after living such a long life already!) Will my writing live in posterity? It doesn’t matter, really. The doing of it has already been grace.
I dream…that grace will afford me the time to keep nurturing my family (none of which lives closer than 2 hours away, so it’s tricky sometimes), growing new friendships and growing my own character.
I dream…that my end will come quickly. (I have SO much company on this one!) Barring that (which is more likely, I hear), that I can endure the decline of body (and mind?) with the gentle and accepting grace that my husband did.
I dream…that I may continue to greet each new year with a rollicking sense of humor and welcome. No matter how difficult it may still be to dream.
I dream…that I may keep discovering a sense of purpose and a sense of wonder. Change is inherent in both. New dreams can surprise.
I dream…that mystery may grow to become an intimate friend. A friend that still reminds me often that I am not-God. Mystery that is no longer a weight to carry, even as I still seek to understand what is still hidden.
I dream…of the day when I am reunited with my beloved and all I have loved who have gone on before me. As a Christian and pastor, this faith is an incomparable gift, hard-won and solid.
“Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.” – John Lennon
“We make plans. God laughs.” – Anonymous freeway billboard
So why dream, anyway???
Because dreams give us direction. They point us ahead of ourselves. They read our hearts and minds and give us the promise of a future that holds meaning and fulfillment. They mine the depths of our spirits and set them on fire.
We are incapable of not dreaming. It is in our DNA, no matter how empty our lives may be. Yes, our dreams will change. Yes, many will go unfilled. Yes, we may lack the courage – or the opportunity – or the gifts to live some of them out. But they are the lodestar (*a person or thing that serves as an inspiration or guide) of every life at every age. Life is difficult. Still, we dream.
Having said all this…I would love to know what other dreams you have! I’m undoubtedly missing some that I need but haven’t yet noticed. Let’s relish them together!