Monday, July 23, 2012

To Dream the Impossible Dream

I'm a dreamer.  No, not the type who wiles away his life by dreaming instead of working--although, I suppose I've done my fair share of that, too.  What I mean is I have an active mind when I'm sleeping.  In fact, I would go so far as to say I'm a good sleeper because I so enjoy the many adventures my brain conjures up.

Most often my dreams are plain silly, such as the time in high school I dreamt of being a member of the mission impossible team.  After we had accomplished our mission and just before I awoke, I remember climbing into a limo as credits started to roll in the foreground.

Sometimes the plots of my dreams are quite elaborate, and I would swear they last a lot longer than the few seconds to a minute the experts claim.  One such dream has me baffled to this day.  The dream involved several characters involved two love stories, one tragic and one, well, the kind dreams are made of.  As the dream unfolded it became clear to me that my friend's girlfriend was planning to shoot him for money to bail her father out of hock.  I arrived late at the scene of the climax to find my friend walking down a dock towards his girlfriend.  I started running after him to stop him.  Meanwhile, his girlfriend raised her pistol, and pulled the trigger.  The instant the shot rang out I awoke to the sound of my mother, in real time, dropping a melmac plate on the floor in the other room.  How my mind managed to conceive this long drama and choreograph the finish, which was both logical and fitting to the story, with a real and totally random event defies explanation.

My dreams have also yielded solutions to real-life conundrums.  When we moved into our first home the narrow and steep stairway leading upstairs was being renovated, so we were, with some difficulty, able to move a queen-size box-springs to the second floor.  Later, when it came time to move, we couldn't fit the box-springs through the finished stairwell.  There was no other way out; the second-story windows were too small.  It caused me some distress because I hadn't planned on adding a new queen-sized bed to all the other expenses of the move.  So I slept on it.  And in my dream I imagined I could simply turn the box-springs over, gently cut away the side fabric, saw through the wood on each side, fold the box-springs in half, carry it down stairs, unfold it, and brace it together with metal plates bolted into each side.  When I awoke, I ripped the bed clothes off the mattress, flipped over the box-springs, and did exactly as I had dreamed--done and done.

Of course, as with most people I've dreamed really impossible dreams, such as flying, or jumping off buildings without getting injured, or the one I had a few days ago that prompted this posting.  I was in a hospital, but not as a patient.  The administrator asked me to fill in for the regular physician who would be absent the next day.  The point is I knew I was no medical doctor; years ago my three and a half year old daughter dispelled any possible confusion on that account when she told a stranger, "Yea, my daddy's a doctor, but not the kind that does anybody any good."  I was sweating in my sleep; why did I agree to such a thing.  A group of stern men dropped in my office later that day to ask me if I knew what I was doing because the last substitute had been a total hack.  For some reason I assured them they needn't worry.  I quickly realized--at least in the time span of a dream--I was in over my head.  At first I thought I might fake myself through, but quickly saw my folly.  My wife, who has had real medical experience, gave me her stethoscope and told me how to run through all the vital signs.  I listened to my own heart so I could figure out what a normal heart sounded like.  To make a long story short I managed to make it through the fateful day as a physician, and everybody went away happy before I woke up.  How did I succeed in the impossible--even by dream's standards? I delegated.

I got to thinking about this, as I am want to do, and realized that God calls each of us to the impossible task of entering His kingdom.  Impossible, because all of us are so far removed from the relationship that such a venture requires.  Indeed, we are so corrupted we no longer know how corrupted we are.  Don't despair at this reality.  Jesus tells us that what is impossible for us is possible for God.  God loves us so much that He has made the way back for us.  He gives us the means to see our plight, choose His way, and then succeed to achieve the purpose he has created us for in His eternal kingdom.  And as in my impossible dream, this achievement will involve delegation.

God never intended a single person to have a relationship with Him.  God told the first man, "It's not good for you to be alone."  For one thing, God's love wants to expand out into ever enlarging relationships.  For another, I'm not even sure we could learn to love as God loves and so calls us to in his kingdom, if our love was confined between us and Him.  I think this is what God meant by what He said to Adam.  Love would not be completed unless Adam could spread that love to his own kind.  In a very real sense, it takes three to tango.

One way this love plays out in God's kingdom is delegation.  Not only does our success in realizing our created purpose require grace from God, it also requires the grace God is giving to others.  It is as a united community that we achieve our created and eternal purpose.  But not in an ant hill commune, where we would operate according to the Borg; nor is it like the communities we find ourselves in this fallen world, where competition is the engine.  No, Saint Paul makes it quite clear that in the kingdom everyone works in the kingdom as individuals honored and respected and needed for both his/her individual success and the completion of the kingdom.  God's kingdom is a unity of individuals knitted together and empowered by the engine of Love.

In closing, I wonder if we Christians think about delegation, such as I am pondering here, as an aspect of God's love?  If not, I'm afraid we might just wake up some day from an impossible dream.