Dreams are among the great oddities of human experience. They are bizarre juxtapositions of events of the day, personal anxieties, divine intrusions, side effects of medication, and random neuronal firings triggered by a late evening meal. We can rightly interpret them as either profound or meaningless, though it is hard to distinguish between the two.
Like most people, I dream whether I know it or not. A few I remember for a moment when I wake up in the middle of the night, others stay with me longer.
Recently I had two dreams on the same night.
Here is the first dream. I was in a public place and belching long and loud, really loud. Every once in a while I heard some women making strange noises in protest. I knew I was being impolite and drawing the stares of others, but…those burps just happened. Honest, I was not burping on purpose.
Interpretation of the dream? There are a few possibilities. One, I was sending out a mating call, or something like that—something sexual no doubt. Two, I am a closet extrovert who is horribly impolite and crude once you get to know me. This is more probable than the first interpretation. Three, I woke up at the end of the dream and noticed that my wife, who was congested that evening, was snoring, if you could call it that. It sounded like a buzz saw interspersed with the screams of banshees. Apparently, I had incorporated her noises into an odd and unimaginative dream. It made me chuckle, but otherwise had very little effect on my life.
The second dream was very different. It unfolded in a lovely wood. I was walking alone on a seldom-used but wide path. It reminded me of the routes used by wagons and coaches to go through Sherwood Forest. It was green, lush, perfectly quiet. Up ahead I saw a dear friend who died of melanoma in 2008. He was standing there, waiting behind a substantial desk. He could have been mistaken by some as a toll collector or one of Robin’s men. But I knew better.
You wouldn’t have noticed too much if you saw me at that moment. I just kept walking toward him. You might have missed how my pace picked up, my heart became full, and my normally unexpressive face had a hint of a smile. But I was in no hurry. There was no urgency. He wasn’t going anywhere. Running would not have fit the tone of the story. It was peaceful and anticipated joy.
Still walking, when I was close enough to talk with him in a normal voice, we engaged in a pleasant and warm conversation, as if we had talked the day before. Nothing profound. I kept walking toward him, walked around the desk without breaking stride, as he knew I would, and we embraced. I knew he was alive with Jesus and would soon leave, but there was no reason to miss him. He was there, I would enjoy his brief visit, and we would do this again another day when I visit him rather than he visit me in a dream.
Interpretation? I have only one, and I am sticking with it, accurate or not. The Spirit had given me a gift—a glimpse of the realness, the peace, the joy and the love that waits in heaven for us. As such, it left its mark as humble gratitude.
Dreams are odd. And in their oddness we do not need resolute conclusions about them. If we do take a stab at interpretation, it will probably not be life changing. A dream might be a hoot to remember, or it might slightly embarrass a wife who is not easily embarrassed, and it can even cause our hearts to be a little fuller as it gives us a glimpse into spiritual realities.