Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Gift of Dreams

Have you ever had a dream that lingered in your memory? I had always thought dreams were interesting because of the variety of people that appeared in them, some I recognized from my life and others I'd never seen or met before. I also thought that the places in my dreams were a bit unusual because even the familiar places looked somehow different when they appeared in the dreams. I had never given too much thought to any of these, until an image from a recent dream kept popping up at unexpected times, and I would wonder why it kept coming back. I tried remembering the dream, but I struggled with making sense out of it. I was surprised then to be in the middle of a therapy session, and out of nowhere came a clear image from that exact dream. I intuitively knew the image had arrived so vividly during the session so that I would have the chance to discuss it with my therapist, and I am grateful that I trusted my feeling enough to mention the image.

Since this was my first venture into dreams, I wasn't sure what anything meant and it all seemed like a silly story with me playing the main character. The "story" was about me being in a large metropolitan city, marching in a parade while holding an enormous sparkling crystal at the top of a very long pole. The crystal was in the bright sunlight, shining with such an intense sparkle that it brought shouts of joy and admiration at the glistening sight. I remember looking up at this spectacular vision of pure beauty, but then it gently went into the gloomy shadow of a tall building, taking all its splendor away. That's where the dream ended.

My therapist was interested in knowing details about the type of building that was casting the shadow on my crystal, but since I had absolutely no clue what kind of building it was other than being quite large, she instructed me to close my eyes and visually return to that place. It didn't take long for me to revisit the main street with the parade going strongly. As my beautiful crystal gradually went into the darkness I turned to locate the building and was amazed to see a huge cathedral casting that dark dreary shadow. Realizing that it was a church that took away the beauty made me swallow hard as the impact of that revelation slapped me in the gut!

The light bulb of understanding was burning brightly, and in that second of realization it was as though the floodgates of my awareness opened. I grasped that the crystal was a symbol for my relationship with God, while the image of the shadow brought clarity to the internal struggle I had been having about the Catholic Church. It seemed as though there were so many rules in the Church that brought a darkness in the form of judgment, negativity, power and control. For me this inner struggle began as I journeyed through the process of having my first marriage annulled by the Church. Remember theMarriage Tribunal of priests who had the power to decide if Jim and I could be married in the eyes of the Church? We had to wait years for their decision, and it wasn't until a monsignor at our church finally stepped forward and told my mom and dad that he would take on the responsibility of blessing our marriage even though the verdict had not yet been pronounced. At the time I wondered why there needed to be all the drama of waiting and uncertainty, when in the end the monsignor was able to handle it in a loving and compassionate manner. Our parish priest had also informed us that our diocese did not allow couples to be married in an outdoor ceremony even though it was allowed in the neighboring many rules.

I walked away from these experiences with questions about all the inconsistencies that seemed to exist in the Church, but I never dealt with those concerns. It wasn't until that dream that I understood how I was truly feeling, and the darkness of the shadow summed it up quite well. I walked away from that therapy session with another loose thread that would be woven into the fabric of my life...the gift of dreams and the insights they can offer.