Sight, Sound and Beyond

Archive for October, 2015

Dreams and Divine Intervention

Dream City by Paul Klee

Dream City
by Paul Klee

Last night I dreamt that I was caring for a chicken that would eventually become a source of food for my parents and me.  The chicken was freely wandering around the kitchen and seemed to be content. Then, I realized I needed to find a good-sized crate or cage for the chicken, so that he wouldn’t end up pooping all over the place.  I picked him up and carried him in my arms while I searched for what needed.  The chicken became a new friend and thought to myself: “I don’t want this chicken to be slaughtered.”

This was the only dream that I was able to recall last night, and after writing it down and thinking about its meaning, I feel a sense of healing and reconciliation from the inner turmoil that I had experienced earlier this week.

The chicken in the dream represents fear.  You have heard the phrase: “Don’t be such a chicken!”  I never quite understood the origin of that phrase, but in my experience, birds seem to be easily frightened. It doesn’t take much to send Sunny and Nikki in the opposite direction.  Maybe I will start using the phrase: “Don’t be such a parrot!  Squawk!  Squawk! Squawk!”

Anyway, let’s get back to the subject. The chicken in my dream represents my fears such as my fear of inadequacy and fear of negative judgement from others.  My holding the chicken symbolizes my taking responsibility and taking care of these negative feelings rather than resisting them or “slaughtering” them.

I found it interesting that the dream took place in the kitchen, a place for nourishment.  A lot of my dreams take place in the bathroom, a place for cleansing.  However, nourishment is necessary for healing and spiritual growth.

It’s been one heck of a roller coaster ride these last few days, but in the end I think I came out a winner.  I guess you gotta have break down before you can have a break through.  Well, I thinks St Peter says better here:

“And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, establish, and strengthen you.” – 1 Peter 5:10

I have also found a way to “build a bridge” between my interest of dreams and my spiritual life.  Up until now, I kind of kept dreams separate from my other spiritual practices.  Yes, there were some occasions I felt that God spoke to me a dream, but I didn’t think that all my dreams could God speaking to me by using the dream world in its entirety.  Working with Br. Don helped me to see this connection, and I discovered a way in which I can integrate dreams into my prayer life, asking God for specific guidance.

When our last session ended, Br. Don gave me an extra copy of a book he had that he recommended for me to read. The book is by John A Sanford and is titled Dreams: God’s Forgotten Language. This book sounds like it is right up my alley, and I look forward to reading it!

A Perfect Storm

Rembrandt The Storm on the Sea of Galilee

Rembrandt
The Storm on the Sea of Galilee

Today keeping silent was much easier. I must explain that in general keeping silent during a retreat is not so terribly difficult for me.  I had no issues on my last retreat. However, the nature of this retreat is different.  I am receiving a lot of information and asking myself a lot of questions.  After yesterday’s session, I felt like a pimple that was about to pop.  I had all this stuff inside that needed to come out. Talking is one way that helps me to sort out information, but I am in a quiet place where people are being quiet. Under normal circumstances, I would find a private area and talk to myself, but I can hear all that goes on here and if I can hear what’s going on, everyone else must hear it as well.  It’s that quiet!  I can’t talk inside the building and if I could, I don’t want others to hear the private conversations between me and myself.

Imagine someone gave you a a gallon of water to drink and you drank all of it because you were so thirsty.  You are now in a small room full of people you don’t know and all of a sudden, that gallon of water catches up with you. Now your bladder is brewing up a perfect storm, and you are doing your best not to think of waterfalls and babbling brooks. Oh but wait!  I forgot to tell you!  There aren’t any bathrooms in the vicinity of the area.  Now you are about to burst, and you don’t know where to go, literally.  All you know is you have to get to a bathroom fast or things will get messy, or shall I say wet?  That should kind of paint a picture for you of what I was experiencing during the past couple days.  I needed to get stuff out of my system and I must say that writing in this blog has been very helpful and therapeutic for me.

Well, today I am beginning to get some relief and clarity with regard to my dreams and what they are telling me.  I had several dreams last night in which I experienced many things: telling a family to stop gambling, building a bridge using telekinetic powers, spilling someone’s cremains and repeatedly turning the hands of time to undo what was done, trying explain to a scientist my logical reason behind the type of bird cage I have, and explaining to a woman that the piano music I gave her was printed differently not incorrectly.

Remember that question I was supposed to asked God yesterday?  I was to ask Him what types of qualities are needed for me to lead a full adult life.  After reviewing the important themes in my dreams, Br. Don and I agreed on the following things:

1.  I must accept myself and what cannot be changed in my life. This includes all past events. What’s done is done and all I can do is learn from the past and avoid repeating the same mistakes in the future. The is revealed in the dream I had in which I accidentally spilled someone’s cremains and tried to erase that event by repeatedly going back in time to prevent it from happening in the first place.

2.  I must continue to take responsibility of my actions.  This is self-explanatory, but being responsible does not mean that you should not take any risks at all in life.  It is important to know where to draw the line when it comes to these things.  This was revealed in the dream in which I was trying to stop a family from gambling and losing all their money.

3. I must view my life experiences as different, not as being wrong.   In the dream involving the piano music, I had two collections of piano music written for one piano four hands.  The piano literature in both books was the same, however, the manner in which the two piano parts were presented on the pages was different.  After looking at both books, the woman told me that one of them was right and the other was wrong.  She accepted the one that was “right” and handed the “wrong” book back to me.  I told her that the music that she believed to be right is the most common way that music for piano four hands is printed, but it can also be printed as shown in the other book.  “It’s not wrong,” I told her, “It’s  just different.”  And so I must learn to look at my own life experiences this way as well. Though I don’t have the same life experiences as most individuals near my age do, that does not mean I have been living my life the wrong way.

4. I must trust my own knowledge and experiences. This was illustrated in the piano music dream as well.  I  explained to the woman the reason why both piano books were printed correctly.  Because of my my 20 years of musical study and over 10 years working in the music field, I knew what I was talking about.  This statement was also illustrated in the dream in which I was trying to explain to a scientist my logical reason behind the type of bird cage I have.  I demonstrate my knowledge on keeping birds as pets based on my own personal experience living with them for 11 years.

These dream revelations also answer the answer to the question I asked on Monday Monday night:  What is needed for my deeper healing.  And now, some words from St Paul:

“Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” – Romans 12:2

Br Don also had a very interesting interpretation for the dream I had about building a bridge using telekinetic powers   He interpreted the bridge as a spiritual symbol because I did not build the bridge by using my hands.  I willed the bridge to be built. It is a bridge to God and the way that I create a bridge to God is through prayer and the sacraments.

As a Catholic, It took me a long time to understand, recognize and appreciate the importance of the sacraments and the role they play in leading an individual to holiness.  Sacraments are outward signs instituted by Christ to give sanctifying grace.  Let’s put it this way, if you really want to get connected with God, the way a power chord gets access to an electrical outlet, the sacraments are a good way to do that. Like a power chord that receives electricity from an electrical outlet, we receive sanctifying grace from God.  Sanctifying grace is a is a life-giving gift, a sharing in the kingdom of Heaven.

Well, that’s enough reflecting for now. Until tomorrow!!!

Going Cuckoo

Cuckoo Bird

Cuckoo Bird

Thank You, God!  I finally got to talk to someone other than Br. Don! The silence was driving me nuts at one point.  I felt like a volcano evolution to erupt.  I finally ran into a woman I met on Sunday evening and whispered: “I need to talk to somebody.  I am going nuts!”  After eating dinner in silence, the two of us went outside where retreatants are permitted to engage in quiet conversation. We both agreed that this was intense stuff.

This retreat is having a very emotional effect on me and I have been getting very agitated. I hope I will leave on Friday morning feeling a little better about things. My dreams are revealing things about my life that I don’t like talking about with people, especially a Jungian psychologist that I just met. My sessions with Br. Don have been more emotional for me than i had anticipated.

I got an answer to my question from God in a dream last night.  In the dream I saw an image of Jesus holding a red-haired doll close to His heart. The doll was supposedly me and His presence was full of compassion, not judgement, which was nice because earlier in the dream I was being yelled at and criticized by my childhood imaginary friend, Jessica.  I had told Jessica about something that happened to me in real life a few years ago that had upset me. She wasn’t sympathetic and told me that I am too sensitive and that I need get over myself. The image of Jesus was a nice contrast to that.

Just a reminder, I asked God last night what He wants me to know for my deeper healing.  In the dream, the image of Jesus was followed by a voice that provided me with an answer.  I received the challenge of living a greater adulthood. Br. Don and I concluded that I now need to accept myself as an emerging adult and take steps to live a fuller adult life.

This is heavy stuff.  I don’t know why but the word “adulthood” leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Now don’t get me wrong, I am all for responsibility and gaining wisdom, but I will tell you what turns me off about adulthood: society’s perception of what a mature adult looks like.  I am 34 years old and most adults around my age are married, have children, settled in their careers, own a car (well, I am not able to drive so I am excused from that one), own a home and know where their life is headed.  Me?  I have two birds, working multiple jobs, learning new skills, still doing the music thing and don’t exactly know where my life is heading.  Most of the people I know who are in similar situations as I am are in their early to mid 20s.

Like I said in an earlier post: I am a late bloomer.  To help myself feel better, I often repeat the following Italian proverb: Chi va piano va sano e va lontano.  Chi va forte va alla morte.  In English this means, “The one who goes slow goes safely and far. The one who goes quickly will die.”  Holy cow!  At the rate I am moving, I am going to get to the ends of the earth!

The worst part was that during the entire time I was talking with Br. Don my mind would not stop yapping. I wanted to slap it.  It kept thinking things like: “He probably thinks your an idiot,”  “He probably is thinking that you are really immature for your age,”  “Yo, get a hold of yourself, he probably thinks your mental!”

Then, when the topic of discerning my vocation in life came up, my initial reaction was like “Oh crap!”  I mean, I will tell you that finding my calling in life has been on my mind since I hit puberty.  Okay, I didn’t start thinking about it when I was that young.  I  started thinking seriously about my vocation in my sophomore year of high school.  In fact, I became so focused  and concerned about finding the answer to this penetrating question that I ended up having a nervous breakdown in my third year of college.  The clock was ticking and I had no clue what kind of life I wanted  after graduation.  My twenties were a mess and my anxiety didn’t start to get better until I was 29 years old, when I began getting more active in my church.

Of course now there is a difference between my life now verses my twenties. While I always believed in God, I wasn’t constantly in relationship with Him.  I can’t say I had much of a prayer life and I did not have as much appreciation for the sacraments like I do now. I was what you would call a clueless Catholic. I didn’t know anything.  Heck, I am still learning.

I grew increasingly frustrated when I didn’t have the answers to Br. Don’s questions. My brain kept saying “Oh crap!” or “Am I supposed to know the answer to that one?” I felt like Radio Shack gone to hell. He had the questions, and I didn’t have the answers. I kind of felt like I BSed my way through some of them just to have an answer. Then, in the midst of all this, the demon of comparison showed up. I asked Br. Don: “Do you talk to anyone older than I am that still don’t know their vocation?” I thanked God when he told me there were.

After that brain-busting session ended, I went to where I get a lot of answers about life: Google.  I did a search on parts of the Bible that mention adulthood.  Here is what I found.

“When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became a man, I gave up childish ways.” – 1 Corinthians 13:11

Well, I have to think about how I could possibly take St Paul’s words and apply them to my situation. The words that stick out to me are “gave up”  in “I gave up my childish ways.”  What are my childish ways?  I never thought of myself as having childish ways, although I am sure people who know me would say otherwise.  Childlike, yes. Childish, I don’t know.  Although, when I was a child, I never liked to admit I did something wrong or stupid.  On second thought, I still don’t like to do that, but I manage to suck it up and take it like a woman.  Now of course, I do own own up to my mistakes and screw ups, but I think I need to dig deeper here. What about the my past?  What about the nature of my true self?  Do I own up to that or do I cover it up?  I notice that I don’t even like talking about myself with most people.

I think part of living as a full adult life is accepting these sort of things and not trying to hide them.  I sometimes feel  embarrassed about certain aspects of my life, like the fact that I am a late bloomer. However this comes as a result of the influence of society’s standards. If you haven’t done something by a certain age, people wonder why and ask questions.  I sometimes find  it difficult to be myself around people because of the fear of being judged.  I always felt like an oddball or an outsider. The only time I ever feel like I belong is when I am at mass.

Br. Don ended our session with an interesting observation and some interesting advice.  “You have a very rich inner life. What you need to do is take what is in inside you and make it external.”  Hearing that statement made me realize why I create and make music: to make the internal external.  When I compose a piece of music or do anything creative (like even writing in this blog), I take something that exists deep inside myself, pull it out and make it external so that it can be shared with others. Maybe music is my vocation and hopefully by sharing what I have created will bring others to a deeper sense of themselves and closer to God.  Maybe I am making this notion of vocation more complicated than it really needs to be.  Perhaps it is okay not to have an exact answer.  If I knew everything about my life and where it was going, I would be God and you all can worship me!

Enjoy the Silence

Mariandale Retreat and Conference Center

Mariandale Retreat and Conference Center

For those of you of you who have never been on a retreat there is one thing you should know. You can’t talk. Okay, that is not entirely true. You can talk outside the building, and if you are on a directed retreat like I am, you can talk during the sessions when you meet with the person leading the retreat.

Now for those of you who know me, you know I like to talk. In fact I am often called motor mouth and am like the energizer bunny: I keep going and going and going.  I have been told to put a cork in it on several occasions.

You can imagine how I am adjusting to the silence here. Eating meals is especially difficult because I feel so tempted to start yapping. I don’t even remember eating in silence last year when I attended my very first retreat at here at Mariandale.  Hmm, maybe I managed to block it out of my memory.

I must tell you that I was relieved when it was 2pm when I had my first meeting Br. Don.  We Began began our dream work together, and besides having the chance to engage in conversation with another person, I got to talk about my dreams from last night.

I seriously had 20 dreams last night, but within those 20 dreams were three dreams that had the same theme. Here is a recap of the three-part dream trilogy. I am with a woman, who I do not know, and she has a black dog with her, who kept trying to bite me.  It seems as though the woman was encouraging the dog to get me because every time the dog would try to go for me, she would do nothing to stop it. The woman was not a nice woman either. She would verbally attack me. This happened in three separate dreams that had three different endings. In the first dream I withdrew and flew to a rooftop where I would be safe from harm. In the second dream there was an angry confrontation between us, and I warned her not to mess with me, a Castellano, Lord of the Castle (That’s what Castellano means) or she would be dead.  Finally, in the third dream I put an end to it.  I somehow managed to get the dog to change sides, and he attacked her instead.   She fell to the floor like a ton of bricks.

In our session Br. Don and I came to the agreement that the woman represents the part of myself that puts me down. I have always been my own worst enemy. That was fairly obvious to me.  What interested me the most is what he said about the dog. Dogs behave aggressively only when they are afraid, so in my dream the dog represents fear and serves as a kind of protector for this woman.

The dream is a representation of a power struggle between two aspects of myself, the critic who compares me to other people and society’s standards, and the real me, the person who God created me to be. My task is to transform this negative energy, the dog, and bring it to the light and have it work for me instead of against me. The final dream illustrates this solution when the dog changed sides, and attacked the woman instead of me.

So how do I apply this to real life. I think part of it has to do with being mindful of my own thoughts and being kinder to myself. Most importantly, I must strive to stay centered on the way of God and not the ways of the world.  To remain close with God is to find inner healing.  I am beginning to realize that.   St. James says:

“Adulteress! Do you not know that to be a lover of the world means enmity with God? Therefore, whoever wants to be a lover of the world makes himself an enemy of God.” – James 4:4

Tonight I am to ask the Lord what He wants me know for deeper healing. Hopefully, His answer will be revealed to me in a dream or perhaps in this silence.

Directed Dream Retreat

Mariandale Retreat and Conference Center

Mariandale Retreat and Conference Center

Greetings!  I am writing to you from the Mariandale Retreat and Conference Center in Ossining, NY sponsored by the Dominican Sisters of Hope.  I am on a directed dream retreat led by Marist Brother and Jungian psychologist, Don Bisson.

It is actually an interesting story how I wound up here.  I currently go to Mariandale for spiritual direction, so I am always aware about the upcoming retreats. In June I became aware about this particular retreat, which had a limitation for only six participants.  When I called to register in July, I learned that all six openings had been filled. I was very disappointed.  After all, I am a huge fan of studying the dreamworld. I was asked if I wanted to be put on a waiting list. In case anyone canceled, I would get a chance to go.  I said that I wanted to be added to the waiting list, but my mind was saying: “No one will back out of this opportunity.”  I asked if this retreat would ever happen again, but there was no answer to this question.

A couple months went by and I accepted that I would not be attending this retreat. Finally at the end of September, I received a phone call.  Imagine how pleasantly surprised I was when I learned that someone had canceled their commitment to attending the retreat and I was now free to go!

It truly had to be the will of God that I am here, and I am so very excited to have receive this opportunity. Dreams tell us a lot about ourselves, and I believe God Himself often speaks to us in our dreams. Even Carl Jung believed that dreams represent a kind of spiritual quest. Dreams are a way for to us to seek wholeness and self-understanding.

My interest in dreams began when I was 13 years old when I learned about lucid dreams. Lucid dreams are dreams in which the dreamer is aware that he is dreaming while he is actually in the dream stare. I had my first lucid dream when I was about ten years old. In the beginning, I would immediately awaken from sleep shortly after the moment I realized that I was dreaming, but over time I learned how to use this heightened state of awareness to my advantage. I would go on flying adventures, dance on water, invent stories and even travel in time. However, I often use this ability to seek God.  “Lord! Lord!” I would call out, “Are you there?”  Most of the time I would not find any traces of Him, but there have been a few instances where I have seen Him as well as the Blessed Mother.

The most powerful dream I had about God was when I was also 13 years old, just one year before I received my confirmation. I was not lucid in this dream, so I was not aware that this was a dream until I woke up.  In the dream I was outside in my backyard near a large rock.  The Lord appeared to me as a glow of white light over the  rock and  was speaking with me . I don’t remember what was said, but it was like having a conversation with a very good friend.  There were no formal introductions.  It was very personal.  After our conversation ended, the light faded away, and I ran to my father who was doing work outside as he often does. I told him what happened and he seemed very interested.

I went back to the rock where the Lord had spoken to me, but this time I had a tape recorder with me. If I had another encounter with God, I wanted to capture that mystical moment on tape. Surely enough, our Lord appeared to me again as the same warm, bright light, and I began taping. We had another conversation.  Again, I do not recall what we spoke of, but it very personal and friendly.

After that joyful encounter ended, I stopped taping and rewound the tape to the beginning. I ran to my father and told him the good news.  Now he would know for sure that I did in deed talk with our Lord. I pressed the play button on my tape recorder, eagerly waiting to hear the voice of my Lord, but to my disappointment, the tape had nothing on it. My conversation with God was no where to be found.

I told my father that I didn’t understand why it wasn’t there.  I really did talk to God and tape recorded our wonderful encounter.  My father said in reply: “If you could prove the existence of God, faith would not  exist.”  It would be like knowing the end of a good movie and spoiling it for everyone. To my father, faith was more important than proof.

This makes me recall the conversation between Jesus and Thomas found in the Gospel of John:

Now Thomas, one of the twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the print of the nails, and place my finger in the mark of the nails, and place my hand in his side, I will not believe.”
Eight days later, his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. The doors were shut, but Jesus came and stood among them, and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side; do not be faithless, but believing.” Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.” – verses 24-29

When I look back on this dream many years later, it confirms to two things: 1) God truly exists and 2) God’s wants to have a personal relationship with me.

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