In Your Dreams: Daydreams

By: Candace Chellew-Hodge

Preached January 23, 2011 at Jubilee! Circle, Columbia, SC

Readings:
Psalm 27:1-9: "The Lord is my light and my salvation"
John 1:29-42: "Come and see!"
  Hear this sermon at the Jubilee! Circle Web site.

Our first song tonight comes from the fifth album released by the Dave Matthews Band. Busted Stuff came out in 2002, and this song "Digging a Ditch," celebrates the work of daydreaming. Let's try it.

Run to your dreaming when you're alone,
Unplug the TV and turn off your phone
Get heavy on with digging your ditch,
Cause I'm

[Chorus] Digging a ditch where madness gives a bit,
Digging a ditch where silence lives
Digging a ditch for when I'm old,
Digging this ditch my story's told
Where all these troubles weigh down on me will rise
Run to your dreaming when you're alone
Where all these questions
spinning around my head will die, will die, will die

I clearly remember the first time I got busted for daydreaming. I was in the fourth grade, and the subject was math - which is a subject guaranteed to make me drift off into dreamland. My daydream was about pure escapism. Back in the mid 1970s there was a TV show I loved called "Movin' On." Actors Claude Aiken and Frank Converse played two rough and ready truck drivers who helped the people they met along their routes.

You have to remember this was during the big CB radio craze, way before cell phones and Facebook. CB radios were the mid-70s version of social media. "Breaker, breaker, 1-9."

So, there I was, in my fourth grade class, dreaming that Claude Aiken, in his TV persona as Sonny Pruitt, would arrive at my school ready to scoop me up and take me on an adventure out on the road with him. Somewhere in the distance I heard my name being called. Was that Sonny, calling me to come and take a ride?

Sadly, no. It was the teacher, calling my name over and over again until I snapped out of my reverie.

"Yes, ma'am?" I managed to say.

"Come to the board and solve the problem," she said impatiently.

I managed to focus on the board for a moment and saw an unsolved math problem waiting for me. I stumbled to the board and stared at it. It was like seeing a foreign language for the first time and being asked what the words meant. I had no clue on how to solve the problem. I stood there for what seemed like an eternity, hearing the snickering of the classmates behind me. Finally, I put the chalk down and turned around.

"I can't do it," I admitted.

"Of course you can't," the teacher snapped at me. "That will teach you to stop daydreaming and pay attention."

I was humiliated in front of the entire class, and I'm sure the teacher thought she taught me a lesson in paying attention - but the message I got was that daydreaming is dangerous - and wrong.

Isn't that the message the world sends to all dreamers? "Stop wasting your time," the world tells us. "Pay attention to what's happening right now. Daydreaming won't pay the bills, it won't get things done, it's useless."

I wish my little fourth grade self could have heard from the modern day scientists on this. Daydreaming is anything but useless. Instead, researchers have shown that daydreaming helps us in many ways. Like meditation, it can help us relax, it can help us boost our productivity, it can help us maintain our relationships, manage conflict and boost our creativity.

It is through the act of letting our mind wander - letting it visualize the world in a different way - that we become more connected not just to ourselves - but to the world.

In fact, one Israeli study showed that high school students who daydreamed more were more empathetic than those who didn't.

When we run to our dreaming we see the world in a new way - we visualize a world where people are happy, where problems are solved, where we're with those that we love, doing what we love. When we daydream, all the troubles that weigh us down rise from our shoulders - and we are free.

Far from a waste of time - daydreaming is how we connect with the mystery of the Holy.

Run to your dreaming when you're alone,
Unplug the TV and turn off your phone
Get heavy on with digging your ditch, Cause I'm

[Chorus] Digging a ditch where madness gives a bit,
Digging a ditch where silence lives
Digging a ditch for when I'm through,
Digging this ditch I'm digging for you
Where all these worries wear down on me will rise
Where all these habits pull heavy at my heart will die

The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? One thing I asked of the Holy, that will I seek after: to live in the house of the Holy all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in her temple. For she will hide me in his shelter in the day of trouble; she will conceal me under the cover of his tent; she will set me high on a rock. "Come," my heart says, "seek his face!" Your face, Holy One, do I seek.

Those desert dwelling poets who wrote the Psalms knew what it meant to run to their dreaming.

When faced with adversity, when overcome by the evil in the world, they ran to the only place where they could relax and reflect on the world - in the house of the Holy. When the going got tough, our ancient Hebrew ancestors got going - seeking the face of the Holy - seeking to see the world as God sees the world - seeking a shelter, a stronghold, light in the darkness. They knew that when they sought the face of the mysterious Holy, that their dreams would become clear - and could become reality.

I vividly remember another time in high school when I was daydreaming in class once again. I didn't get caught and humiliated this time, however, but I remember clearly seeing myself standing before a crowd and speaking confidently and forcefully.

I didn't come out as a lesbian until I was in college, but I had come to the conclusion that I was a lesbian in my teen years, so this daydream was curious for me - a closeted teenager. In my daydream, I was speaking to a large crowd at a gay rights rally. I was speaking openly about my own sexual orientation and speaking out for the rights of all minorities.

I had no idea where that daydream came from. I had never, once, considered myself a gay rights leader while I was a teenager, but there I was, wasting time in English class dreaming of speaking before a gay rights rally.

Years later, this vision would come to pass - many times. I've spoken before many crowds, large and small about the rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.

I also remember daydreaming a lot about walking into a bookstore and seeing books on the shelves written by me. I've always wanted to be a successful writer. Years later, that daydream, too, became a reality. My fondest memory is walking by the window at Malaprops bookstore in Asheville a few years ago and seeing my book Bulletproof Faith on display.

Those old wise Hebrews knew what I was just learning - the true source of our daydreams is the Holy. These daydreams I had were like movies playing in my head. They were so real.

The Holy was simply showing me previews of coming attractions - previews of realities that I would one day live. Previews of the ways that my dreams could inspire other people and make the world a better place.

Our daydreams are not a waste of time - they are gifts from the Holy. Instead of running away from our dreams - we must run to them. Run to your salvation, run to your light, run to your stronghold when you are alone. The Holy isn't just responsible for our dreams - the Holy is our dreaming. Run to this dreaming. Take up residence and live in this house of the Holy - where we can dream the dreams of the Holy.

Breathe deeply.

Run to your dreaming when you're alone,
Not what you should be or what you've become
Just get heavy on with digging your ditch, Cause I'm

Digging a ditch where madness gives a bit,
Digging a ditch where silence lives
Where all these disappointments
that grow angry out of me will rise,
Will die, will die, will die

Run to your dreaming when you're alone,
Unplug the TV and turn off your phone
Get heavy on with digging your ditch

The night was like any other when Jimmy's mom and dad told him to go to bed. Off he went like a good boy. An hour later his mom checked on him to discover him not in bed, but staring out the window at the moon.

She asked him what he was doing.

"I'm looking at the moon," he told her. "You know, one day, I'm going to walk on the moon." Years later, little Jimmy would survive a near fatal motorbike crash which broke almost every bone in his body. But, 32 years after that first dream James Irwin became the eighth person to set foot on the moon's surface.

Writer and spiritual guide Deepak Chopra said: "The greatest ideas are nothing more than daydreams until they are pushed to become reality."

You may not dream of walking on the moon - but the Holy has given you dreams to dream - and to push to become reality.

Breathe deeply.

Our second song hit number one on the Billboard charts in 1967. It was originally written by John Stewart - a former member of the Kingston Trio - not the Comedy Central guy. The group that took it to number one however, was The Monkees. It was the TV pop group's last number one hit in the U.S., and I'll bet you all know it. Let's try Daydream Believer:

Oh, I could hide 'neath the wings
Of the bluebird as she sings
The six-o-clock alarm would never ring
But it rings and I rise
Wipe the sleep out of my eyes
My shaving razor's cold and it stings

Cheer up sleepy Jean
Oh what can it mean to a
Daydream believer and a homecoming queen

In our Jesus story, we find our guy just starting out on the dream that the Holy has put in his heart. He comes to his cousin John the Baptist to be baptized. In that act of baptism, the Holy affirms her dream for Jesus - as the Spirit descended like a dove from heaven and remained with him.

In this baptism, two dreams are realized, both John's and Jesus'. John's dream was to pave the way for one who was to come after him. The Holy gave him a dream to fulfill, to proclaim the coming of this man named Jesus - the one who would fling wide the realm of God and bring it to earth. He was not bitter about his role. Instead, he embraced his dream - and pushed it to become reality. He fulfilled the Holy's purpose for his life - and Jesus did the same.

The power of pushing your dream into reality is not so much that your dream gets fulfilled as much as it is that those around you become inspired to fulfill their own dreams. They see you striving to live into the dream the Holy has set inside your heart and mind, and they begin to search for the dream the Holy dreams inside of them and to bring that to reality.

A few of those people were hanging around with John and Jesus. Two of John's disciples witness the dreams of John and Jesus and they want in on the action. So, they follow Jesus and ask him where he's going. They want to tag along and learn more about how to turn daydreams into reality.

Jesus asks them a curious question - that he still asks us today. "What do you seek?"

What do you seek, Jubilants? It's an important question and one worthy of pondering for awhile. Do you seek glory for glory's sake? Do you seek praise for praise's sake. Do you seek wealth for your own comfort? Or, do you seek glory so you can share it with others? Do you seek praise, so you may then bring praise to others? Do you seek wealth so that you can do more for more people?

What do you seek? It's an important question to ponder. Some of us still may be seeking that dream - seeking to simply bring it into mind. I encourage you to daydream more - to let your mind take a recess with the Holy. Swing on the swings, twirl on the merry-go-round, hang from the monkey bars. Play with the Holy and she will reveal to you that dream that burns so deeply within you that you can't help but give birth to it in reality.

What do you seek? Dreamers are always seeking - always dreaming - always wondering what's next and how to bring their dreams into reality. You simply cannot stop a dreamer once they become clear on what they want.

What do you seek? Just this past week we paused to remember one of America's most prolific dreamers - Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. As he told those gathered before him in Washington in 1963 he had a dream.

Breathe deeply.

You once thought of me
As a white knight on his steed
Now you know how happy I can be
Oh and our good times start and end
Without dollar one to spend
But how much baby do we really need

Cheer up sleepy Jean
Oh what can it mean to a
Daydream believer and a homecoming queen

Daydreaming can be dangerous, though, when we use it as a means to escape the world instead of using it to change the world. Every single one of us here has daydreamed about winning the lottery and what we'd do with that sudden windfall.

Most of my daydreams feature me and Wanda living in a mountain home near Asheville, far away from people and the troubles of the world. It's a totally escapist fantasy. In this daydream, I'm not helping anyone but myself. I'm taking care of me and the rest of the world can take a hike - just not on my land.

I can imagine men like King, and even Jesus, indulged in these kind of escapist daydreams from time to time. With the crushing responsibilities they both faced, the hatred, the persecution, and the constant threat of death hanging over both of them, I can imagine they'd spend some time dreaming of some island or mountain paradise where they could escape the demanding dreams the Holy had given them.

Think how different our world would be if these men had not pursued the dreams God had given them to fulfill? Who would have led us from the bonds of racism? Who would have modeled for us how to love this world so deeply and wastefully no matter how much evil the world returned for our love?

Jesus invites us today, just as he did those disciples of old, to "Come and see." Come and see a world where dreams can become reality. Come and see a world that is changed when we live into the dreams the Holy plants in each of us. Come and see how both we and the world are changed when our daydreams become reality.

Your daydreams may not lead you to end racist laws or lead such an amazing revolution that it literally costs you your life - but that doesn't mean your dreams are not important. If King and Jesus teach us nothing, they teach us that pursuing our dreams are important, not just for ourselves, but for the whole world.

We daydream of a better world - a world of peace, justice, and equality - not just for ourselves, but for everyone. It is imperative that we bring those dreams into reality. If we don't, then we leave the world not just unchanged, but perhaps worse off because we have not fulfilled the dream that the Holy has given us.

If we are to make the world a better place, Jubilants, for us and for everyone around us, we must dedicate ourselves to "come and see" and become daydream believers. I have a dream today, Jubilants, I have a dream about a little church on Millwood Avenue being filled with daydream believers - those who run to their dreaming - that stronghold of the Holy - whenever they can.

Jubilants, I have a dream today, about a community that lives into the gift of the daydreams the Holy has given them and brings them into reality. Jubilants, I have a dream today, that we fill this room with daydream believers - that we overflow this space as more and more daydream believers join us.

I have a dream today, Jubilants, that this community will do great things, and realize many dreams that will bring peace, justice, and mercy into our world. I have a dream today, Jubilants! Will you dream with me? Will you be a daydream believer?

Cheer up sleepy Jean
Oh what can it mean to a
Daydream believer and a homecoming queen

Oh, Yeah!

Candace Chellew-Hodge is a recovering Southern Baptist and founder/editor of Whosoever: An Online Magazine for GLBT Christians. Her first book, Bulletproof Faith: A Spiritual Survival Guide for Gay and Lesbian Christians, published by Jossey-Bass is now available at http://www.bulletproofbook.com. She currently serves as the pastor of Jubilee! Circle, a progressive, inclusive community in Columbia, South Carolina. She is also a spiritual director and is currently taking on new directees. She blogs regularly at Religion Dispatches. She can be reached by email at editor-at-whosoever.org or by using the suggestion box.

Copyright by the author All Rights Reserved

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