(Jim Houston) Letters From a Hospital Bed #14: Reflections From a 99 Year Old

Earlier I wrote of how dreams have changed my life and through it, even events that have shaped others. The early indigenous explorers that discovered New Zealand were responding to their ‘a dreaming’. Augustine and his mother Monica found themselves united through having had the same dream that they were both, together, in the presence of the Lord, a reality that Augustine explored more fully in his Confessions. The silence of Quakers often led to shared dreams that had some profound social impacts, such as the abandonment of slavery, as they recognized through dreams the universal equality of each person, each made uniquely in the image of God. In a time where we think that Zoom is our only way of being ‘together’, perhaps the Lord has other ways for us to enjoy a communion that our busyness has too long resisted. Martin Luther-King energized a generation and more, by declaring so memorably that “I have a dream”. In our hyper-cognitive times, in which the rational brain is amplified, and cognition celebrated, where is the place of our emotions, even the deep depression expressed by Kierkegaard? In our dreams, our emotional life can find greater freedom of expression.

As I have entered this more sleep-filled season of my life, I sense a greater urgency to attend to my dreaming, not only because there is more opportunity – I sleep a lot more – but because I am discovering a richness of life that I was too busy to engage as fully before. I was always blessed by being raised in Spain as the ‘siesta’ was a daily feature and one I have recovered more fully in later life. But dreams are not only for the old – young men will see visions, says the prophet, Joel. I see dreams as a double consciousness that can intensify our identity as Christians, to take our faith beyond the simple affirmation of catechism and entrust our entire unconsciousness into the loving arms of our Heavenly Father. It is hard to argue with God in a dream! Instead, we can know His gentle guidance and prodding of our stubborn wills.

As we prepared this letter, Chris has pressed me to express my deep desire for you with respect to our dreaming. In response to his well-intentioned pestering, I make this my prayer for you.

Read it all.


Posted in Aging / the Elderly, Canada, Seminary / Theological Education