I can fly and there’s nothing I like better. A big wave is coming, shifting the horizon up a mile into the air; we’ll all die. I’m in a play and don’t know the lines and a cold panic sweeps on over. I’m in a school and can’t find my classes, nor my locker, nor remember what the combination is. I find my childhood toys all scattered in a stream bed and I try to gather them up and save them. Dreams.
Senseless, terrifying, prophetic, wild. I think it’s where our hopes, our fears, our thoughts run about in story form in a frolicking subconscious. Sometimes it feels like an autobiographical comic strip that got cut-up and rearranged in chunks that make no sense next to one another, but in dreams you accept whatever is glued on to that piece of paper. Continuity is optional.
Other times I feel like I’m not writing the story at all, but I’m seeing something I’m supposed to. I feel embarrassed to say it, but I’ve had a number of prophetic dreams. In Chile I had a dark, dark dream. One of the worst. In it a woman was giving birth and as the baby was born the mother nodded to the midwife you promptly decapitated it with a knife, then another baby as well. Dark blood flew and my soul convulsed; awakening me in a cold sweat and wild with horror. The next day in our town of Puerto Montt, Chile two newborn babies were found dead in a trashcan, umbilical cords still attached.
Another time in a dream I saw a married man among our acquaintances making sexual advances on a woman who was not his wife. I was shocked and repulsed and heartsick. One month later he left his wife and children for his mistress.
Why I saw these things I don’t know. I don’t tell people about them (until now), because there isn’t a neat and tidy way to understand dreams and where, or with whom, they originate. I only know that they change me and they make me listen hard for the message, if there is any, in the dreams I remember.
This morning a monstrous black snake fixed it’s eyes on me. Big as a python with a huge head, it coiled itself in moving loops as big as hula hoops and sped across the grass at me, it’s eyes never wavering from mine. I remember thinking, “Oh no, why me again?” I must have met this snake before. And then it’s mouth was on my arm, fangs sinking deep. Such pain, such deep pain. With my free hand I dug my nails in and tried to pry that clamped mouth from my arm. I got the head loose and crushed it against the ground. It shape-shifted then, became a baby rather than a snake, and I loosened my grip in horror, letting my hands fall away. I awoke, sweating and scared.
I thought while I showered, while I tried to rinse off the horror and terror of that dream. The snake was evil incarnate, I knew that; evil has a stare like no other. I’ve come through many attacks in my spiritual life, thus the sense of repetition. And evil does shape-shift, when you’ve almost gained victory over a certain sin, it can suddenly seem not so bad after all, almost a pitiable thing, like the baby, maybe even in need of protection. That’s my best attempt; time will give it layers. I don’t easily forget dreams like that.
It may seem a strange catalyst, but the dream about the two babies fueled my passion for fighting infanticide, exposing abortion for what it really is, an unspeakable horror. It gave me a gut-level, marrow-deep conviction about the sanctity of life.
Dreams about others falling into sin (and later seeing those things come to pass) have given me an alertness and vigilance in my own spiritual life which otherwise may not have been there. I have a feel of how close we are to the ditches on the path and how attentive we must be to where we place our steps.
I don’t claim that all dreams have meaning. I think some are just the subconscious colorfully breaking wind. But there are others that leave a mark, give a message, reveal something to us.
What about you? Has a dream ever changed you? Have you dreamed prophetically? Do you have a recurring dream that you’ve figured out?