Monday, April 15, 2013

Dreaming of home

I’m still here, still thinking, but the reflective writing has taken a backseat lately thanks to the combination of tomatoes, figs, uni, and school holidays. So here's something from the archives, a whimsical piece reflecting on a dream I had last year. It was first published in Zadok Perspectives No. 116 (Spring 2012).


One night recently I dreamed I was in my house when, just for a lark, my sister went for a swing on the ceiling fan. But the ceiling was rotten and fell in; and that is how I discovered that my house was built in the shell of a much larger house, eight or ten times as big.

I found myself in a magnificent dark timbered old hall. Wide creaking stairs rose to a mezzanine which ran around the building. The mezzanine was lined with timber bookshelves filled to overflowing with leather bound books; and glass topped display cabinets held stuffed birds, interesting bones, strange artefacts and other curiosities. Broken rafters dangled down, and through gaping holes in the roof I could see the sky.

I said we should rip out our house and live in this much larger space. How wonderful it would be!

But, said the everyone of my dream, we couldn’t possibly afford it; instead, we should just fix the ceiling of our little house, and ignore the big house in which our house stands. I was left with the sad feeling that this was sensible, but then I thought, Why not do it anyway?

Why not reach out beyond the ceiling, the roofline, the house I thought I had, and find something large and beautiful? Why not rip out the new little neat little clean little house and make ancient history habitable? Much better to have rooks in the tower and holes in the floor in an expansive old house than be limited by a tidy low ceilinged safe suburban home.

Upon waking I found myself wondering, have I made of my soul a suburban home? A pristine place with nothing to make me uncomfortable? Have I ignored the rumblings of loose rafters above my clean white ceiling, the quarrelling of ancient birds just out of hearing, the centuries of history and learning and stories that were in the old books? Have I settled for less?

This is a question of trust, of course; and I suspect that, for the most part, I have chosen to live comfortably rather than push out and discover just how deep is the Christian story, how vast is God’s love – and how exuberantly I could respond.

I don’t really know how to live in the house of my dream, but the vision grips me so fiercely I want to try. My hope is that if I read the old books and examine the bones; if I sit on the stairs and gaze at the sky; if I remove all the rot and listen for birds; and if I reflect on what these things have to say, then through dreams and play and work and silence, I might just find a way.


  1. I once had a similar dream - I found an enormous, ancient ballroom through the door I had always thought led to our poky cellar. The ballroom had great archway windows with views to an open countryside. I woke with the wonderful conviction that all this was somewhere inside me, and still, from time to time, I think of my inner ballroom and how to make better use of it.

    1. Fascinating. I am part of a social dreaming group. We meet monthly, tell our dreams, and then trace meaning in the points of convergence. Why do we share dream images? Because we are part of a shared class / societal / social landscape which informs our dreams. Sounds like you and I have shared a dreamscape, too.


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