Delivering On A Dream
Sometimes a dream is like a voice calling out of darkness. When we hear that call, the impulse to run towards it and run away from it, are equally startling experiences.
There are “dreams come true” made of the miraculous stuff of heaven that we know not from whence they came or why—other than it was something we longed after, and the belief that miracles do indeed travel this way. Then there are the “dreams come true” that materialize, in part as a result of our efforts. The sort of “delivering” on a dream that takes you by the scruff of your neck and like a mighty wind carries you—often ruthlessly, though sometimes joyfully—towards hidden destinations.
A dream that is of the sort out of which “purpose” originates is just such a creature. It will not leave you alone once you answer the first five or so calls. Now the first three calls, you might send a “yoohoo” back and be okay. By the time you are tempted to call back the fifth time, that dream moves forward out of its mystical cloud, lowers itself into your life and becomes the very environment you live and breath.
Its arrival conjures an unsettling combination of elements with which we will live for the rest of our lives: an uncontainable bliss, and a suspicion of dread that we may no longer be in charge. We realize, although it has been there all the time and we just failed to recognize it, that a bright and dangerous destiny has revealed itself. Finally. And now suddenly, being unreasonable is the most natural thing in the world. After all, we have a dream!
We vacillate between resolute resignation to our higher purpose and participate in this unfolding willingly, or fight it with all we’ve got. Now here is the beautiful thing: It appears that the Mighty Divine has established that both the surrendering and the struggling are needed for the raising up of a dream.
“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but when dreams come true, there is life and joy. ~Proverbs 13:12
Thinking that a life of ease is the good way, and that a life that includes struggle is a bad way, is a misconception. If it were not for the struggles and hardship of our ancestors, we would not exist. We must, as did they, step out in faith into unknown territory, knowing in ones very bones that the journey must be made, no matter the uncertainty of the outcome.
Many times, we do not even have a clear vision of where the dream will lead, but it is our vision of how and who we will BE in the fulfilling of that dream that sustains us as it moves us along at a pace unique to all other patterns. That invisible parade called “our dream” calls to us, tossing bits of bright candy to make us run towards it and suddenly we find ourselves the queen on the float. Dreams are like that. Thrusting us into one uncomfortable risk after another. Yes, as if dreams have a mind of their own. They take over, bringing us to wonder at the benefits of our newly elevated station, the faux rhinestone crown, the loss of the anonymity of our street-side view.
We must be willing to get rid of the life we’ve planned,
so as to have the life that is waiting for us. ~ Joseph Campbell
Once we answer the call, we realize that indeed it was there all along and that we were ripening into the heroine or hero of our saga. For some it comes early, for some it comes late, and for some, regrettably, it may remain unfulfilled unto the grave.
I often think of the brave and daring souls who forged, and continue to forge, our country and our culture out of the dirt, spit, blood, sweat, tears and the hope of the “dream clouds.” However horrible or wondrous their endeavors may have been at times, for better or for worse, we are here because of the dreams of our ancestors. And we may yet,
experience the peace and possibility for which all peoples truly long. I shall never give up that hope, however unreasonable it may be.
“The wounding of land and creatures reaches to the dream world… and beyond it to impoverish the dreamers as well. Yet there is still time to intervene…
but the time is right this instant…” ~ Clarissa Pinkola Estes
I give honor to those who dream while using creativity as a lens through which to view the infinite universe. Inventors who imagine the impossible, those scientists who seek to discover, those poets who organize the words, and those artists who give shape to the vision are the ones who make it possible for the rest of us to begin to lay hold of that which lays just beyond the reach of our mortal minds. The Mighty Divine works with these brave souls to reveal bits of God-stuff that cause us to look skyward and wonder: Is there indeed a great author writing this story? And has that Author-on-high, seeming at once gentle and cruel, caring and indifferent, determined the outcome for every player and their dream in advance? Or are we, composed of the glistening particles of stars, set here and told: Go on now. You are made to partner in all of this. You can do it. Just get on that bicycle and start pedaling.
Has it all been worked out in advance, or is yet to be decided—the great and glorious winged fate of our people and our earth? I much prefer to believe and live my life within the context of having a role in a drama which has not been predetermined and that who I am and what I do can have an impact. Thus my continual fixation on “meaning making” and my commitment to my visions, and the dreams of others.
“The work of a visionary is to remember the past, dream the future
and take powerful action in the present.” – Shiloh Sophia McCloud
Some say, there are no accidents or mistakes. This is a seductive concept, but I do not believe it. When I step out of my door and promptly squash a tiny ant on her way back to her mother’s house with a crumb from someone’s yesterday sandwich, an accident has occurred, along with ten million other accidents and mistakes of which I may or may not be aware and have little power to prevent. When my destiny collides with another’s as in the case of the ant, as in the case of a marriage, or a life long friendship, or a business partner, or a total stranger, accidents and mistakes do occur. We may spend our lives healing from some of those “mistakes.”
The Holy Book reminds us from ancient pages that we are indeed, responsible for one another, and in fact, that our greatest gift would be to lay our life down for another. I have come to think (and Jesus reminds me) that the willingness to lay one’s life down for another informs some part of any truly great dream.
Dreams of great import always call for involvement with others, include the workings of one another’s lives in our own. When I am working with others on their visions and dreams I ask them to imagine the WHO. Who is it that this vision they are stitching together may be for? About? What will it inspire? You are the heroine or hero, so your personal fulfillment is the natural result of the dream coming true in real time. What is this life, if not about creating something meaningful that we all might feel a part of the great and beautiful dance, even amidst the suffering?
“Let us not wallow in the valley of despair, I say to you today, my friends. And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream.
It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.” ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.
And what about being willing to be a part of another person’s dream? Are we brave enough to realize that our dream may be well suited to live within or alongside another person’s dream so that we may support and be supported by one another? Since many of us are currently still fixated on having our own washer and drier (and I am no exception), sharing a dream seems to call for us to check our egos at the ego-check along with our coats and cowboy hats and to consider how we might work on the bigger things. To be able to be together is, after all, our strength. It is possible to have our own vision and a unique part within the bigger story we are all a part of creating.
We are our grandmothers’ prayers. We are our grandfathers’ dreamings.
We are the breath of our ancestors. We are the spirit of God. Y.M. Barnwell
My grandmother was a great storyteller and I like to think about her stories because it is a way of spending time with her. She was also a great dancer with great legs and one of the stories she loved telling was about when she was a young woman at a dance and a little boy asked her to dance with him and fell in love with her. He called her “The Dancing Lady.” I had pondered what it was about that experience that stuck with her for so long, but It is no mystery to me now. She felt truly seen by that little boy for as beautiful and magical as she felt, inside and out. In his eyes, and in his naming her, her glorious self was reflected back to her, and my, but it did feel good!
Perhaps she told the story to remind herself in her old age of the “Dancing Lady” self, and to remind us as well. “I am that dancing lady and don’t you forget it!” And we haven’t. It is just about a year since she departed this earth and we do remember her as that Dancing Lady. My mother plans to have her dancing shoes bronzed like people bronze baby shoes.
One of the dreams all of us have, I believe, is to be seen and to be heard, by at least one person. It sounds so simple, and yet in my work I have found it a common denominator that people rarely feel seen and heard. People long to have who they are known and acknowledged.
A young woman I know was considering leaving her husband. They were out on a walk and she saw the most beautiful flower. She showed it to him, and she said: “I am this flower.” This was a moment in which she was able to recognize herself and then call upon him to recognize her. Praise God, after much struggle, much around “being seen” they made it. But first she had to see for herself that she was that flower and call attention to it. Creativity is a powerful way to work with these concepts. During her struggle to find and identify herself, I encouraged her to set up an art studio and begin a painting practice. I shared with her that while others may not see us – we need to see ourselves and stop regarding the approval of others over our own.
My dancing grandmother and the young flower wife valued the same thing: to be seen and chosen. Sometimes we are as unaware of our own dreams as that wife experienced her husband being unaware of her. We must realize that our dreams, our very lives are calling to us: “See me!” and “Don’t pass me by as you walk through this life. Honor me!” and finally, “Choose me!” And this is where we begin. Seeing and choosing ourselves so that we can answer the call of our dreams. Dreams are a demanding companion, ever causing us to reach further, dig deeper, stretch more and move into territories with signs like: “Proceed at your own risk. The map ends here.” This life, this very planet, is in need of a tribe of folks who are willing to be visionary, and to act in small and large ways realize and materialize our dreams.
Where there is no vision, the people perish. Proverbs 29:18
If one does not hear a calling or imagine a dream, perhaps one has not considered oneself important enough in the scheme of things to take the time and space required to hear. We must start listening! I believe every single one of us is here to be partner the Great Dream of the grand unfolding of creation! We can say YES to our part, or we can say no. Or, like most of us, we can say a little yes and a lotta NO. But the story will continue with or without our consent. We need to know that saying YES to the small voices of little dream fragments will eventually lead to the part of the dream that we can call our own. Certainly being too busy to write, paint, dance or pray deprives us of the time and space to be visionary. That is why dreams, in order to be heard, sometimes must come like a storm in the night and rattle our windows until we get up to see what the fuss is about and suddenly find ourselves in some strange inward dialogue about the meaningless of our existence. Caught unawares, our dream catches us up and then there is no going back. Somewhere inside of this storm, is the calm in the middle, and inside of that, happiness is possible.
“A primary responsibility that you do have, however,
is to cultivate happiness in your own life”. ~ Alice Walker to President Obama
So, in spite of any considerations regarding our lack of self esteem or importance, let us clear the way for the dream and be a space where we can hear the call. Why ever would we not? Consider right now the consequences of not doing so, and consider this: Why not bring a more profound presence of meaning and possibility into our lives? I am not suggesting we quit our jobs, or build an ark. I am not suggesting we sell all we have and go on a pilgrimage to save the world. I am suggesting, we take time to consider the age old questions the sages have been calling us to consider since time began: “Who am I?” and “What am I here for?”
“Load the ship and set out. No one knows for certain whether the vessel will sink or reach the harbor. Cautious people say, ‘I’ll do nothing until I can be sure.’ Merchants know better. If you do nothing, you lose. Don’t be one of those merchants who wont risk the ocean!” Rumi
Suddenly one day, our dream will dawn on us and we will have that sought after sense of belonging to something akin to, well…the universe! The call may come, sweet and low like a bird swooping over the water. That bird’s presence is reflected in the ripples of the water. Let us ripple and reflect the presence of our dreams and when we are ready, put our boat out on that water, and sail off on an adventure, together. We will navigate our course by the stars. Explore wild places. Sail into the sunset. And of course, find that wonderful satisfaction that comes from knowing, we are indeed, a part of this miraculous circumstance we call life.
“There is a vitality, a life force, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique, and if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium; and be lost.” Martha Graham
I have come to believe, in the living out of my own dreams, that it is a unruly and holy combination of my efforts, the prayers of my grandparents, the hope of the world and the mercy of the Mighty Divine, that allows me to get anything done.
© 2009 Shiloh Sophia McCloud