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.