The other morning I woke up for the first time from a dream in which I’d been praying. I don’t recall praying IN a dream before, though of course I don’t remember enough to know. Have you?
In the dream, I was in a study of some sort, praying for two particular students whose academic work and names appeared on two different pieces of paper I was lifting up off my desk. I’d had each of these students in classes in the past. And I was struck by the sense in that dreamed study of the stillness of prayer, the command to do it, the ease of entering it. As if it were something absolutely vital to do.
Just now I had an email exchange with a cousin my age. She’s raising three teenaged daughters, currently as a single mother. I originally had 38 cousins (a few have died), and I didn’t grow up near any of them, so I’ve known only a few of them well. This particular cousin I’m getting to know better as an adult via Facebook. And our first real email exchange (today) turned out to be about prayer. She’d sent around one of those ‘say this prayer for the person who sent it to you, then send it to five other people’ sort of emails. So I just asked if there was something that needed particular attention, and she shared both some concerns and a lot of thanksgiving for her three daughters. And I was struck again by that sense I’d had in the dream: prayer as a state of being, a state of consciousness, that we can begin to slip into with depth and ease over time. I like that I connected with this particular cousin over prayer.
Many years ago, on Rosebud reservation, I spent time with a woman who’d founded (I believe) and ran a domestic violence shelter on the rez. She was in her 50’s then, at least, if not somewhat older. And she said that the older she got, the more time she spent in prayer. As if it’s the primary reality, the first place from which to meet all that befalls us.
Many across the centuries have asked if our lives are like dreams, and if our dreams point to dimensions of reality we do not as easily access in everyday life. But praying itself can have the quality of a waking dream: not a fantasy, but a way of holding the various truths of our lives that present themselves, with a depth that we cannot see or sense apart from prayer.