When the LORD restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dream. – Psalm 126:1 (NRSV)
Am I the only person who reads Scripture and begins to hum a Broadway tune? I suspect I’m not.
“We were like those who dream,” pens the psalmist, and I start singing: “I dreamed a dream in times gone by, when hope was high and life worth living,” in my most dramatic Fantine imitation (Les Misérables).
Dreams – aspirational, fantastical, and nightmarish alike – are something of a time warp experience. In a moment of dreaming, our minds trip across past, present, future, to create something new in a moment when it is intangible. A nightmare can interrupt the present with the past. A vision can give the present a hint of the future. A daydream can reimagine the present with an entirely different future.
“In the past when God restored the fortunes of Zion,” describes the psalmist, “we were like those who had imagined such a future but couldn’t believe it was at last their present reality.” And then the psalmist prays: “Do that again, O God. Interrupt our present with future fortunes that we used to have. Speed the season between weeping and rejoicing, between planting and harvesting, so that we can reap goodness in the present to heal our past.”
The psalmist’s dreamy conflation of time reminds us – helpfully, thankfully – that God is not a linear God. God is not a time-bound God. A dream can heal the past. A prophesy can secure the future. A new awakening can change the present. And who I am, how I am, is neither pre-determined by my past nor by my future nor by my present. It is still being dreamed by God.
Miraculous God, unbound God, healing God – let me not lose hope that the past can be healed, let me not be afraid that the future is unknown, let me not believe that the present is without a harvest.