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What Do My Quarantine Dreams Mean?

While we’re sleeping, God may be speaking to us. Here’s how we can listen and learn.

Quarantine dreams

Having weird dreams lately? You’re not alone. Evidently, we’re not only dreaming more these days, but we’re remembering more of our dreams. According to The New York Times, searches for “why am I having weird dreams lately?” have quadrupled during the pandemic. 

Some of it has to do with our shelter-in-place realities. Stress, isolation, changing sleep patterns. It’s a lot to take in. As always, though, I ask myself how is God speaking to me in my dreams? What do they mean? Surprisingly enough, I find messages of hope lurking in the fears. 

Here are a few positive messages I’m taking from my dreams:

Dreams are a way of processing our emotions. 
At night your pent-up emotions will make themselves heard. Did something happen to you during the day? Some piece of alarming news you took in, some fear realized? Your dreams are helping you cope with it.

I’ve noticed a lot of my dreams are about social distancing. I’m at a party, say, and someone hugs me. I think, “Should they do that?” I step on an elevator and then step off. Too many people. Clearly, I’m trying to process the current protocol where loving your neighbor means staying at least six feet away from them.

Look to recurring tropes and symbols.
A bug or a monster might be a sign of fear. Or a certain personality will pop up again and again. (I remember my wife having frequent visits from the Queen of England in her dreams.) 

This is a little embarrassing to admit, but for me, Julie Andrews often makes appearances.

Must be from all those times I listened to Mary Poppins as a kid. I guess that’s why I found it comforting that she showed up recently, like Mary Poppins singing me a lullaby. One of God’s angels spouting a broken umbrella instead of wings?

Your dreams are helping you deal with what’s different.
I’m not going to an office right now. I’m working from home. Perhaps that’s why I often dream about work. Just the other night (in a dream) I ran into my colleague Edward Grinnan outside the office. He gave me a copy of the latest issue of Guideposts.

It feels like God is telling me, see, the work still goes on. The blessed good news of Guideposts is still reaching out to help others and comfort them.

Dreams fill in what you miss.
I really miss not going to church, not worshipping together, not singing in the choir. We do it all on Zoom…but it’s not quite the same.

So there in a dream my pastor appears. Not at church, but at home. Two beds are turned into pews, and we celebrate communion together. Unexpectedly. It’s as though I’m being told, “God is still here.”

Dreams foreshadow our future. 
I wonder how and when and if ever this will all end. My dreams are startlingly, surprisingly reassuring. The future will be different, they seem to say, but it will still be there. It will come. And what will it look like?

I have a dream where I go to a big city to interview celebrities and come away being told that it’s the community that counts, not the stars. The community will thrive. Or in another dream, I meet a woman with extraordinary gifts of compassion and empathy. She seems to be saying, “This is what we all have and can use. God’s gifts to us.”

Do I understand all my dreams? Do I understand what God is telling me? Not by a long shot. But every morning, first thing, I write down what I remember. Later, when I look at what I’ve written I ask, “What’s this, God?” 

God spoke in the Bible through Josephs’ dreams (both the Joseph in Genesis and Joseph in the Gospels), through Daniel’s dreams, through Jacob’s dreams. I don’t doubt that God still speaks to us this way. It is only for us to listen and learn. 

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