When the LORD restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dream. Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy. – Psalm 126:1-2 (NRSV)
I woke up from the nightmare, shaking. As someone who rarely remembers their dreams, I was overwhelmed by the vivid details … and the calculated violence … of this particular dream. The terror of it squeezed my heart so tightly that my breath was short and panicked for the next twenty-four hours.
Too often, our dreams are nightmares—fearful conglomerates of life events and mental processing, haunted memories of spiritual scars and fresh heartaches. Then when we wake, more nightmares flood our news feed: drone bombings and racialized violence, ruthless poverty and state-sanctioned discrimination. With nightmares permeating both day and night, it is easy for the thoughts of our minds and the words on our tongues to sour.
In search of escape, we might opt out of the buffet of nightmares and choose to bury our heads in dreams of willful ignorance, of naiveté, of bias, of vanity, of consumption. Anything to buffer our spirits from pain and fear.
But no. The beckoning—the reckoning—of Advent is to be filled up with the dream of God’s goodness in such a way that our mouths overflow with laughter, our tongues pour out songs of joy, our tears rain down delight.
Buffered spirits cannot dream such dreams.
Isolated spirits cannot dream such dreams.
So when your heart pounds with fear, when your nightmares interrupt the day, when trouble catches your breath, when you feel your spirit building that wall, be like those who dream: be together. Share laughter, songs, tears, and stories of God’s goodness.
Daydreamers dream in community.
God have mercy. Our nightmares haunt us, and we neglect to dream. We neglect to dream together. Fill us up with the knowledge of your goodness. Then our mouths will laugh and our tongues will sing.
Rachel Hackenberg serves on the national staff for the United Church of Christ. She is the author of Writing to God and Sacred Pause, among other titles. Her blog is Faith and Water.