I have been thinking quite a bit about visions, dreams, and imagination in the context of a community. Too many times I find myself using these words interchangeably. But, in the conversation within community, these words, I believe, take on their own distinctive perspective.
Visions are somewhat like apparitions. Those things we see with the mind’s eye. Visions have their genesis from outside our consciousness and apart from our personal unconscious. In other words, a vision is given to the one having the vision. Like reading a book or watching a movie. We see what someone else is thinking but our interpretation is needed to see another dimension of the story. The perspective only we can understand because of what we bring to the vision. Often, we give language to the vision, as God showing us a picture of the future. Indeed, the message may be from God, inspired through Holy Scripture, music, nature, another person, or other mediums through which the Spirit of God speaks. The measure of God’s visions, however, is that while the vision may emerge through an individual—visions appear for the sake of the community of God’s people. God vision’s are for the sake of the many and serve the collective.
Dreams are the work of the unconscious while we are asleep. Our dreams are most often the work of our personal unconscious trying to get our attention about something we as individuals need to work on. Yet, there are times, the collective unconscious will arise through an individual’s dream in order to speak about an action the community needs to move on. As in the case of visions, the bible is full of examples of the collective unconscious, the communion of saints, indeed God, speaking to the community through the dreams of an individual. Once again, these types of dreams can be intended for the community only if they are for the benefit of the community. A good example of mistaking an individual dream for a community dream is Joseph in Genesis. He told his brothers his dream, believing the dream was for their benefit. The dream was clearly for Joseph and for him alone, even though it involved the future of his family. True, had Joseph not been sold into slavery and banished to Egypt the end result may have disastrous. Yet, if we trust the efficacy of God and that of the collective unconscious, Joseph would have walked his pilgrimage down some other path, leading to the fulfillment of his purpose for the benefit of his family. Work with your dreams. Build a relationship with your dreams. Learn to trust them.
Imaginations are the works of the holy stare, contemplation, day-dreams. Imagination has the power of the conscious infused with the liberation of the unconscious. Imagination is the incubator for creativity. Holy rumination can give birth to a new possibility. Frankly, the Christian Church and religion in general could benefit from some fresh imaginationing.
If you have a vision, a dream, an imagination, talk about it with a spiritual mentor, a holy friend. Try it out and see if the vision, dream, imagination has some legs. Then voice the vision, dream, imagination into the community. Listen to the response. Is there resonance in the community? Others may see your vision and if they do, then the vision will take on a life of its own. In that moment the Spirit of God can do some amazing co-creation.
Visions, dreams, and imaginations—are the cosmic makings, the stuff, of being present to this specific moment in this time of life. While the results of visions, dreams, imaginations released into the universe may not be realized in our lifetime, they must be spoken into the cosmos. For sure, then, our visions, dreams, and imaginations will never feel the energy of light if they are never acted upon. Visions, dreams, and imaginations simply swimming in the mystic darkness without being spoken into the universe will exist in loneliness. Despairing of never having the chance to emerge and live in the exuberance of lightened freedom. Have courage. Suck in a deep gulp of air. Exhale the volume of what only you can breathe into the mystic milieu. We all need some true and holy visions, dreams, imaginations.