She looked up from her vanilla reindeer drink with glistening eyes and found the courage to whisper “the dreamer in me is broken.” I thought for a moment; careful to avoid a rushed response that would dishonor her vulnerability. We sat together in sacred silence for a few moments before we sensed a permission to continue with words.
My heart led me to the story of Moses and the Israelites in Exodus 19 as they gather together at Mount Sinai. For Moses this was a returning to a place of great significance. I imagine his foot steps were hurried and his heartbeat audible as he brought a group of people to the same wild desert space where he had his burning bush moment. That sacred moment where he was invited to see ordinariness in a new way.
I told my new friend that as the Israelites camped before the mountain, waiting to hear from God, they were a mixed bag. Their tents (the physical representation of their very lives at that point) were full of joy and they were also full of grief and sorrow. There were travelers on the journey who had run out of hope and there were also those sometimes obnoxious and overly optimistic folk who seem to have digested a hope that never runs out.
There were campfires where dreamers gathered and spoke out loud of the promised land. Giving voice to their dreams seemed to fuel the height of the flames. They laughed together and drank out of imaginary chalices that were overflowing with an abundance of new wine. The fire was warm and welcoming.
There were campfires where dreamers had fallen asleep and given up. They told stories of slavery and making bricks for Pharaoh. They couldn’t see a way out of this current wilderness and so they spoke carelessly of Egypt’s plenty, as if it cost them nothing. Forgetting the cost of slavery extinguished the last remaining embers of hope. The fire was cold and cruel. In its place was smoke and heartbreak.
When we gather together to pursue sacred community we always show up a mixed bag. Our tents facing a multitude of directions; people on the brink of despair and people living into contagious hope. People who feel near to God, and people who are cursing God.
I squeezed her hand gently from across the table and asked her a bold question, “Will you let me dream for you?” I was asking her to trust me. I was asking her to trust that she could show up to a community and receive gifts that would tend to her pursuit of wholeness. I caught her off guard with the chutzpah of the question, but her initial surprise turned to a gentle smile as she realized the invitation was genuine.
I have a lot of dreams living inside me about what sacred community could look like. And I believe, like the burning bush moment for Moses, that it begins with our ability to see the ordinariness in our lives as anything but ordinary. I believe it looks like encountering each others pain and heartache and entering into the messiness of life. I believe it means being vulnerable enough to admit that there are seasons where your ability to dream and hope is broken.
So what will you do when the dreamer in you is broken? Will you turn to the seduction of seclusion? Will you run back to a form of slavery that you vowed never to repeat? I hope you’ll consider an alternative even if it seems scary and impossible.
My hope is that you’d do everything you can to find a group of people who offer themselves to you. A group of people who ask you if you’d like to gather around a fire that hasn’t turned to smoke. A group of people who dream out loud those crazy and contagious dreams while simultaneously allowing you the space to navigate what’s not as it should be in your life.
For the next while I plan on dreaming for my friend, and for anyone else who feels like they need a community of people to dream for them. I am confident that one day my friend will look at me from across a new table and she will tell me stories of the dreams that are beginning to form in her life and in her heart. She will have had the space to heal and pursue wholeness because we committed to not rushing her out of her searching too soon or too abruptly. In this current season she will always be welcome to show up, just as she is, broken dreamer and all.
The hope that pulses through my bones is that one day she will find herself across the table from someone broken and out of sorts and she would offer the bold question, “Will you let me dream for you?” And in that sacred moment she will have turned her receiving into giving. She will have entered into a holy dance where we encounter God by encountering each other.
May the way of the humble King guide our footsteps forward.
*Image Credit: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/327777679119850560/