Tuesday, December 5
The Mystery of Dreams
Narrative Lectionary Daily Devotions written by Kace Leetch from Clergy Stuff.
King Nebuchadnezzar was greatly disturbed by a recurring dream that haunted him, even when we was awake. He summoned his wisest counselors to help him. He demanded that they tell him not only the interpretation to the dream, but the dream itself! Essentially, he asked them to read his mind. If they spoke the dream and the interpretation correctly, they would be rewarded. If not, they would be torn limb from limb. Nobody in the kingdom -- or in the world, for that matter -- should have been able to do what the king requested. But Daniel could, and tomorrow we will discover what he learned.
Dreams have been a mystery since the dawn of time. Why do we dream? Why are some vivid and some abstract? Do they mean something? If so, what? I have a theory (as do some psychologists) that our dreams occur when our brains are trying to sort all the noise and clutter that rolls around in our brains during the day, into the brain's filing system for storing those memories and thoughts. Like defragmenting a computer. Our dreams can help us quiet the noise and give us space to think. Dreams are our brain's way of working properly and making sure our brains continue to function well.
But it's also really fun to try to make meaning of dreams. When I was a kid I had a recurring nightmare about skeletons on a pirate ship fighting me with swords. They were the stop-motion figures from Jason and the Argonauts. Just as they were about to get me, my dad would swing down on a rope from the bird's nest and save me every time. Interpretation: I had a pretty awesome dad that let me watch Jason and the Argonauts (or whatever other show was playing on Sunday afternoon's Creature Features, and who was always there for me to save the day.
And sometimes dreams are profound. Many years ago, my mom awoke one night from a frightening dream. A young man had appeared to her in a dream. He told her, "Tell them I'm ok." She didn't recognize him at the time and tucked the dream away. We soon learned that David, a close family friend, had died that night when a car struck his motorcycle. He was just 18 years old. Instantly, my mom knew that David had visited her dreams to pass on the message to his parents that he was ok.
We may never fully understand the purpose and meaning of dreaming. But we can continue to wonder at the marvel and mystery of it.
Narrative Lectionary Text: Daniel 2:1-16
In the second year of Nebuchadnezzar’s reign, Nebuchadnezzar dreamed such dreams that his spirit was troubled and his sleep left him. So the king commanded that the magicians, the enchanters, the sorcerers, and the Chaldeans be summoned to tell the king his dreams. When they came in and stood before the king, he said to them, “I have had such a dream that my spirit is troubled by the desire to understand it.” The Chaldeans said to the king (in Aramaic), “O king, live forever! Tell your servants the dream, and we will reveal the interpretation.” The king answered the Chaldeans, “This is a public decree: if you do not tell me both the dream and its interpretation, you shall be torn limb from limb, and your houses shall be laid in ruins. But if you do tell me the dream and its interpretation, you shall receive from me gifts and rewards and great honor. Therefore tell me the dream and its interpretation.” They answered a second time, “Let the king first tell his servants the dream, then we can give its interpretation.” The king answered, “I know with certainty that you are trying to gain time, because you see I have firmly decreed: if you do not tell me the dream, there is but one verdict for you. You have agreed to speak lying and misleading words to me until things take a turn. Therefore, tell me the dream, and I shall know that you can give me its interpretation.” The Chaldeans answered the king, “There is no one on earth who can reveal what the king demands! In fact no king, however great and powerful, has ever asked such a thing of any magician or enchanter or Chaldean. The thing that the king is asking is too difficult, and no one can reveal it to the king except the gods, whose dwelling is not with mortals.” Because of this the king flew into a violent rage and commanded that all the wise men of Babylon be destroyed. The decree was issued, and the wise men were about to be executed; and they looked for Daniel and his companions, to execute them.
Then Daniel responded with prudence and discretion to Arioch, the king’s chief executioner, who had gone out to execute the wise men of Babylon; he asked Arioch, the royal official, “Why is the decree of the king so urgent?” Arioch then explained the matter to Daniel. So Daniel went in and requested that the king give him time and he would tell the king the interpretation.