Dreams of Flying
I had a dream last night that I was flying. I could feel the wind beneath me as I began to drift over the earth, and could see for miles around in all directions. The dream was a bit fuzzy, but the feeling of exhilaration that I felt in that moment was one that stayed with me a bit after I woke.
But how I woke was jarring and hard. It felt like I crashed back into my body from some great height, and I came awake in a rush as the bed moved with me as I seemingly fell back into myself.
My arm had fallen asleep somehow and felt like lead below my shoulder---all numb and heavy, cumbersome in a way, like it didn't belong to me any more.
The memory of flying stayed with me though as I waited for all of the feeling to return to my arm, and for my hand to stop tingling. I wanted to return to the dream, to feel it once again. And as I drifted back to sleep I silently prayed that I would.
Lightness of being has been hard to come by at times during this Corona crisis. There have been happy moments for me and for the people who have been quarantined with me these past two months, don't get me wrong. We've had our fair share of laughter.
But it always seems to come with a shadow--the feeling that things just aren't right, no matter how hard we try to act like they are. And so when I dream that I can soar high above the earth, the deeper thing I'm undoubtedly wrestling with is not lost on me.
I felt joy when I was dreaming, and I miss the way that feels. It's natural to feel this way. I read this poem by Mary Oliver a couple of weeks ago, and it came to mind today as I was remembering my dream from last night:
Listen, whatever it is you try
to do with your life, nothing will ever dazzle you
like the dreams of your body,
longing to fly while the dead-weight bones
toss their dark mane and hurry
back into the fields of glittering fire
even the great whale,
throbs with song.
We long to feel the kind of joy that is described in this poem because it is within us to long for something more, to know that we can transcend whatever struggles that are keeping us from soaring, and to fly...
What I'm struggling to figure out through all of the craziness of this pandemic is that all of the ways I used to define the feeling of joy need to be reworked. Joy is much more than momentary feelings of happiness or glee.
And this is the most important thing---joy isn't always found in the sunlight. Sometimes it comes when we learn to step into the shadows, and face what's there once and for all.
Henri Nouwen once wrote:
What we have to start sensing is that in the spiritual life, joy is embracing sorrow and happiness, pain and pleasure. It is deeper, fuller. It is more. It is something that remains with us. It is something of God that is very profound.The truth of the matter is that we have within us not only the longing to fly, to feel the joy of being loosed from our troubles, our worries, fears and the things that keep us from taking wing, but we also have the strength to do it.
It's within us---all of us. The same Spirit that blew over the waters of Creation is blowing all around us, in us and through us even now. And those unpredictable winds will lift us up at a moment's notice and carry us along---if we are willing to let go of the ground and fly.
So do you have dreams of flying today? Do you long for joy in your heart? Have you been so focused on getting through your day that you have been unwittingly clinging to the earth with all your might, afraid to let go and be carried away?
Know this---joy can be found in all of it, if you are willing to be lifted.
So spread your wings today. Let the wind of the Spirit carry you aloft. And fly...
And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.