When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dream. Then our mouths filled with laughter and our tongue with shouts of joy. – Psalm 126:1-2a (NRSV)
Is it better to dream or to be practical? To envision a new world, a just world, an honorable world … or to observe the world as it is without illusion?
I’m more of the latter sort. The “daydreaming won’t make a hard day easier” sort. The “it doesn’t make a difference whether you say ‘half full’ or ‘half empty,’ because either way you have half a cup” sort.
Not pessimistic. Realistic.
Except, of course, that I do dream.
I dream of peace. Of safety. Of well-being and joy. Of sowing and reaping purposefully, gratefully. Of stretching and relaxing and being—without a crick in my neck, a knot in my shoulder, and an anxious eye on my bank account.
Calling myself a realist is just a cover really, a ruse to avoid admitting that I expect to be disappointed by unrealized dreams.
Maybe you live that way, too—with the expectation of disappointment.
The season of Advent, then, becomes our time to practice daydreaming without hesitation, without skepticism or reluctance, without a backup plan in case of disappointment. The promise of Advent’s dream has already been fulfilled! The experience of Advent’s dream is already spelled out for us: Tears turning to laughter. Displaced people returning home. A shoot pushing up from a stump. A word becoming flesh.
In Advent, we dream without disappointment.
Here is my joy, O God—not conditional or tentative, but full and free. Here is the song on my tongue, O God, unburdened by doubt and bitterness. Here is my laughter, O God, as my mouth tastes the sweet goodness of your realized dream.
Rachel Hackenberg serves on the national staff for the United Church of Christ. She is the author of Writing to God and the co-author of Denial Is My Spiritual Practice, among other titles. Her blog is Faith and Water.