By Sara Scheunemann

Listening to Dreams

Many of my dreams are an odd jumble of scenes. Someone with an interest in dream interpretation would likely have a field day sorting through the images — at least the bits and pieces I remember upon waking — to make sense of my subconscious.  Occasionally though, one stands out not only as semi-coherent but also as a possible gift from the Holy Spirit to reveal the inner workings of my soul. In such cases, I don’t need a Joseph or Daniel for interpretation. I awake knowing that God has spoken to me in my sleep in ways that, perhaps, I couldn’t hear while awake.

In graduate school, I dreamt one night that I was with a large group of friends and family at a national park. Jesus was there too, standing at the trailhead and inviting me to join him on a long hike up the mountain. Excited to get started, I went to everyone and asked if they wanted to come. I grew sadder and sadder as each person offered some reason why now wasn’t a good time, and finally I found myself back at the trailhead, alone with Jesus. He made it quite clear that he was leaving, that he wanted me to come, and that the view from the top was spectacular, but also that I couldn’t wait for other traveling companions. It was time to leave now. I awoke feeling that the dream had captured exactly how I was feeling about life in that season. I felt like I was on the journey alone, while everyone around me was busy with other things, but I knew that I was following Jesus’ invitation to climb and that he was with me. The dream gave me opportunity to acknowledge and grieve my loneliness, as well as to enjoy the sweetness of knowing that I was never actually alone, but on an adventure with the lover of my soul.

Recently, I had another memorable dream one quiet night before the final day of a two-year formation program in which I have been learning what it means to be a spiritual director. In my dream, I was looking at a house that I was interested in buying. It had a tiny, cramped, oddly-laid-out little kitchen that made me wonder if the rest of the house was even worth exploring. But, when I walked through the door to the next room, it took me into a wonderland—a high-doomed ceiling of the heavens, a mountain for a wall, a lake clear as crystal for a bath, and birds singing sweetly everywhere. The tiny house opened up onto all that is beautiful in this world.

Throughout the spiritual direction program, Martha and Mary (Luke 10) had been my companions, representing two sides of myself. Both sisters, active Martha and contemplative Mary, are loved by Jesus, just as are both parts of myself. Yet, once again in my dream, I was hearing the invitation I had sensed throughout the program — to leave the cramped kitchen where I had been working with Martha and walk into the wide and beautiful space of abiding at the feet of Jesus with Mary. When the details of life swamp me, I return to the sense of awe I felt in that dream and remember to walk into the wideness of God’s love. I remember to value the Mary side of myself and to sit at Jesus’ feet. And I marvel that the little house of my soul could be home to the glory of the God who dwells within me and who speaks to me even as I sleep.

About the Author

Sara Scheunemann lives in Marion, Indiana, where she serves as the program coordinator for the John Wesley Honors College at Indiana Wesleyan University and teaches spiritual formation practica. During the summer months, she travels to Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska, where she is a graduate student in their Christian Spirituality Program. She is a spiritual director and a runner, and she'd rather be found on a hiking trail than just about anywhere else.

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