Thursday, April 14, 2016

Hollowed Out and Dreamless

Two weeks ago, I'd have been headed from the Lowcountry to the mountains, headed to the Create in Me retreat at Lutheridge.  The theme of this year's retreat was "Dreams and Visions."  I had been asked to do this:  "For our "artist stories" this year, we'd like folks to share dreams - this can be a dream for yourself or a dream for some group (like your church, family, etc.) or it can be a dream for "the church"... Would you be willing to do that?" 

I said sure--it was a presentation of just a few minutes, and I'd have time to think about it during my travels.  But when I got to Lutheridge and looked at the program, I realized how many of the workshops and presentations would revolve around the idea of our dreams for ourselves.  I thought, how long has it been since I've had a dream for myself?

I felt instantly sad.  My dreams of a better job, in terms of the same job that I have now as an administrator but at a different place--that's not the kind of dream for myself that wish that I had.

I thought back to the time in 1995, when my spouse and I started to dream about remaking our lives.  Where might we want to move?  How would we get there?  If we could do anything, what would it be?

And then, we did it.  Are we living completely different lives?  In a way, no.  I continued to teach, and my spouse, too, has returned to teaching.  But we would not have come to South Florida without that time of extended dreaming and planning.

I wondered what I should say, when it was my time to present an artist story.  How could I have come to a retreat on dreams and visions with absolutely zero in the way of dreams and visions?

I prayed for wisdom.   And the message that I got was to be truthful about the stage of life that is mine right now.  So, I stood up and talked about who I had been, the girl with a plan and a back-up plan, and a bucket of wild dreams and hopes.  But now, at the age of 50, I find myself with a lack of vision for the future.  I said, "This is not the midlife crisis which I was promised.  But maybe that's O.K., because I don't have to pay for a flashy sports car or endure an inappropriate mate."

I talked about the possible advantages of being hollowed out and left empty, with no dreams.  Maybe that's when we're more open to every possibility, not just the ones we've been trained to consider.  Maybe that's when we can hear the voice of God which beckons us to greater visions than we could have ever developed on our own.

In these days of coming down from the mountaintop, I am bombarded with reminders that time may be shorter than I think.  A friend from college just made a Facebook post that announced his decision to give up his pastoral call, move several states away, and focus on what will come next.  That move was precipitated by health crises of the past year and the desire to be nearer to family.  The past two weeks have been full of that kind of news.

I think back to the person I was in 1995.  I knew that we would be place-bound for a few years, as my spouse went back to school to get his MPA degree.  But I wanted to be in a good position to make a move when that time was done.  And so, each day and each week, I took on a task to move to that state of readiness.

Let me now dream of what life could be like in 5 years.  Stay tuned!

Update:  After writing this blog post, I did some visual journaling.  I miss the markers that I had access to at the retreat, but I used what I have on hand.  Good to know that the expensive markers might be worth the investment. 

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