Journal entry 040711: About dreams

So if you want to know the truth, I don’t understand dreams at all. I have dreams every night, and almost all of them are about fictional scenes or situations tied loosely to my real life. They are always a bit unreal, yet never completely abandon the rules of physics. I have never dreamed I could fly, for example. I wish I could steer my dreams to the scenes I want, and believe me, I’ve tried. But I can’t. At least for me, whatever portion of the brain is responsible for dreaming will not be manipulated or controlled.

113 - bush Not only that, but dreams usually escape my consciousness almost immediately. They have a half-life of about 20 seconds, but occasionally they stick around long enough for me to remember them.

The reason I am writing about dreams is not because I am trying to channel Ezekiel, or even John Lennon, but because I spent the majority of Sunday night dreaming about hiking up a mountain trail. Not about sitting on a summit or under a big shade tree enjoying the view, but about hiking up the trail with backpack on my back and trekking poles flying by my side. Not in the sense of never being able to reach my destination (that’s a different dream), but rather about having more adventures ahead of me. I think it’s significant that my mind, on its own, returns to the image of covering miles on the trail.

I remember one hike up Guadalupe Peak when my friend Brandon said to me as we reached the summit, “Berry, I believe I could experience God’s presence just as well in a big chair in the shade near a Texas lake.” I would guess most people feel the same way Brandon does, and maybe I wish it was true for me as well. It sure would make my life easier. But for me, it’s the movement that often turns an experience into a spiritual encounter.

BDS Truchas (69) About this time last year I attended a weekend retreat in Colorado, where we talked a lot about our life calling and talents and dreams and desires. The other guys pointed out that most of the photos I liked and the stories I told and even the words I used were about roads and trails and journey and pathways. I was surprised to hear that from them; I hadn’t thought it was such an obvious part of my story. But then I remembered that at least ¾ of the photos I take while in the mountains feature the trail. My claim has always been that including the trail in the picture adds perspective and depth, but maybe it has always been the pull of the trail itself that made me dig out my camera. As in, “Look where I walked, wasn’t it cool?”

So speaking (or writing) about dreams, Wednesday night I was dreaming again about being on my feet, but this time I was running in a 10K race instead of hiking. The course was nothing but hills - the only flat places were the momentary tangents at the top of each hill and bottom of each valley. In my dream, I was a magnificent runner. I was clipping along with the lead pack, surrounded by young, fleet, flatbellies, the gray-haired sage doling out advice and retelling old race stories even as we ran. I was a little sad when the alarm clock went off at 5:40 AM. Usually I am happy to get out of bed for another Iron Man session, but alas, if I could have returned to my fast-running dream, I might have slept in this morning.

DSCF0543 Well, like I said, I don’t know what to make of dreams. I don’t believe, as some do, in the universal symbolism of dreams. I think people are too different to have the same symbols. I do believe dreams are often symbolic, but specific and unique to the dreamer.

I also believe, after reading Mark Batterson, that many of our dreams are actually prayers - especially those dreams we have over and over.


“I run in the path of Your commands, for You have set my heart free.” Psalm 119:32

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