What is the Dream God Dreams for You?
“What is the dream G!d dreams for you?” So exhorts my dear friend and spirit-brother David Mayes (aka Beaver) in the sweat lodge and when I talk to him (in fact, almost every dang time I talk to him! Sheesh, c’mon, Beaver!). It’s a beautiful question, poetic and reflective of the elemental yearning to connect with our Genius whose source is the Source Beyond Us.
Can we dream this dream? Can we live this dream?
Sometimes we have to leave what we, and others, thought we were to receive this dream. We have to leave the comfortable confines of our own self-image. Maybe we have to go into the, surprising, darkness.
In doing this, we follow our patriarch Jacob. He left his home both to avoid the anger of his brother, Esau, and also to find a wife. Unlike his grandfather, Abraham, who set out on a calling with an unknown destination, Jacob knows where he was going. He just has no idea what he’ll find along the way.
According to midrash Jacob and his wild brother, Esau, were identical as young children. As they grow up, their identities become separate. Jacob becomes the “smooth” and “simple” man. This is his own construction of his identity, but I also wonder if it was pressure from his parents.
The turning point is when Jacob steals the blessing of the first-born from Esau. He tells his father, Isaac, “I am Esau.” According to Aviva Zornberg this is nothing less than Jacob taking on Isaac’s character, at least partly.
Jacob then has to leave his comfy tents, the place of his old identity. He strikes out and, “Behold,” (a word that shows up a lot in this portion) the sun sets, and he has one of his famous dreams. Angels (the Hebrew word also means messengers) are climbing up and down a ladder going from earth to heaven. I picture a certain frenetic character to this, a bunch of angels scrambling over each other to go up and down. Midrash says that the ladder is actually Jacob. It’s Jacob who connects heaven and earth. He is the platform, the substrate for the angels’ work.
The dark comes on Jacob suddenly. According to our medievil commentator, Rashi, the darkness comes early so G!d can coerce Jacob into dream time. Perhaps G!d knows David Whyte’s poem, Sweet Darkness:
When your eyes are tired
the world is tired also.
When your vision has gone,
no part of the world can find you.
It’s time to go into the dark
where the night has eyes
to recognize its own.
There you can be sure
you are not beyond love.
The dark will be your home
The night will give you a horizon
further than you can see.
You must learn one thing.
The world was made to be free in.
Give up all the other worlds
except the one to which you belong.
Sometimes it takes darkness
and the sweet
confinement of your aloneness
anything or anyone
that does not bring you alive
is too small for you.
The blessing Jacob receives uses the Hebrew word that connotes even bursting out. Jacob goes into the darkness, the wild place, the place of stones, to burst out into his new manifestation, one of strength. In fact, he goes on to become quite a badass. He’s able to move a huge stone from the mouth of a well to allow others to do their own digging, their own self-exploration.
This scares him. When he wakes up, he is afraid, and grateful. He still has to experience trials to get to his full self, but owning one’s own greatness is always a process. Like the, perhaps over-used, quote from Marianne Williamson:
“Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. … You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn’t serve the world.”
It is scary leaving our safe, comfortable tents and identity to potentially meet our strength, our role in manifesting Divine messages. Sometimes we’re pushed out, as I have been recently. Or maybe, like Jacob, we’re chased out by things we’ve done to others, or maybe we make the bold step in pursuit of a particular vision. We may have to rest our head on stones along the way. In my case, I take comfort that darkness may bring vision. I learn from Jacob that G!d is in this (read: every) place whether I know it or not. Indeed wherever I happen to step is the “house of G!d and the gate of heaven.” What is the “I am” that you can say to start your journey to that strength, to that badass-ness?
“The moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way.” W.H. Murray