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In a recent dream I was to give a presentation on the stages of dying.  I planned to focus on the 5 stages  that Elizabeth Kubler-Ross had written about in her book On Death and Dying (c. 1969).  Those stages  she addressed were denial, anger, bargaining, depression (mourning about the dying process/loss) and acceptance.   I also planned to use the song “Teach me about Dying…and I’ll teach you to live” by Deanna Edwards from her cassette Peacebird (c. 1974).

When Dr. Kubler-Ross did her research on death and dying, the dying process wasn’t much researched or discussed.  Around that time Deanna Edwards was writing songs addressing similar issues.

Since then many others have written books and music about dying, mourning and losses.  We all experience many kinds of dyings and deaths in our lives:  leaving home, losing a job, loss of dreams, health, pet, friendship to mention a few.  Each of us deals with these dyings in our own individual way, based on our life’s experiences and our personalities.

On waking I wondered about this dream.  It didn’t seem that the presentation on stages of dying were so much about physical death as about situations that feel like dying or deaths in our daily lives.

I see these stages not so much like moving from preschool through high school, but more as a spiral.  When we are dealing with losses sometimes we may be in denial. Or we may  be in depression or mourning the loss, or perhaps in some part of acceptance.  Another time we may feel anger at the loss or attempt to do some bargaining,  later coming to a deeper level of acceptance.  How we cope with the losses is determined by how important each loss is to us and how we have dealt with life’s other struggles.

By acknowledging our feelings as we face our losses, we not only can learn about deaths  and losses in our daily lives but grow in awareness of what it means to live each day at a time.

Reflecting on the stages of dying can be helpful for by looking at each of the stages, we may see where we are in our process.

We don’t forget what was important but somehow by letting it go, and not wishing it was still there, we can move towards some kind of restoration or acceptance and find a new normal.

Our prayer may be brief.

Comforting One, as we face these dyings in our daily lives, help us grow in awareness of what it means to live.  Remind us to take each moment at a time and that you are with us.  Fill us with your peace as we go through these losses in our lives.  Amen.

 

September 25, 2016 0 comment
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I’ve had a dream recently in which I’m to take a written test of several pages.  In waking life, I’ve struggled with taking tests though I’ve always passed.

In the dream I’m having a couple problems.  The directions are in very fine print so small I can barely read them.  The other problem is that some of the questions are about events I’ve not been interested in so haven’t paid attention.  One event in the dream was of an award in 1992.

As I prayed with this dream I wondered how my vision of God’s working in my life is too small.  How can I see more clearly and see the bigger picture of life?

What situations am I ignoring that would deepen my relationship with God?

I thought back to 1992.  What would be beneficial for me to remember?  Two significant events came to mind.  In early 1992 I took a written four day exam.  Though it was difficult, I passed.  The second event was that I was ordained a transitional deacon.  Both were life-changing as I made final preparations for priesthood ordination.  I reflected on the many ways I was aware how God was with me, especially at that time.  There were times that seemed like God had forgotten about me.  Looking back, I now can see how God was directing me though I wasn’t aware at the time.

I wonder what long test am I about to take?  Will it be long in duration?  Will it be of short duration but feel like a long time?  How will my life be changed?

I need to be mindful of God with me in whatever comes.  These reflections helped put in perspective many current situations that seem like tests.  God is always with us, even in the midst of struggles.  Remembering God’s presence will help to have a broader vision knowing that God is in control.

Hidden God,

Thank you for night dreams that help us reflect on your goodness.  As we encounter situations that seem like tests that come in our lives, remind us of your presence and guidance.  Give us a broader vision and greater understanding of your love and guidance.  Amen.

August 21, 2016 0 comment
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I first became aware of the spiritual value of dream work during a directed retreat many years ago.  I was having a hard time focusing on how God was a part of that retreat.

The retreat director suggested I put pen and paper by my bed each night and record any dreams I remembered.  During the rest of that retreat I remembered three dreams each night.  Discussing those dreams with my spiritual director helped me focus more on how God was working in my life.  This started my dream work spiritual practice which I’ve continued in my own spiritual journey.  I also invite those who come to spiritual direction to consider dream work as a spiritual practice.

After that retreat I began exploring the importance of dreams in my life.  Several books helped me deepen this spiritual practice.  Morton Kelsey wrote a small book Dreams, A Way to Listen to God.   He and John Sanford, author of Dreams and Healing were among the first of contemporary Christian authors to write dream books for the general public.  Each has written many books on the topic.  The books of these Jungian authors were invaluable in my process.

I had the privilege of attending a workshop which Morton Kelsey presented in Minnesota.  I remember his saying that many of the major events recorded in the Acts of the Apostles were results of dreams or visions of the early Christian leaders.  This led me to reread that book of Scripture.  I’ve also become more aware of how often dreams and visions are in the Bible.

I’ve continued the practice of recording my dreams, praying about them and reflecting on the symbols within them.

Dreams often seem strange to our waking minds for they are very symbolic. It’s important to identify our own dream symbols and explore their meanings for us personally.

Many books are written about dream symbols.  However, I believe we learn more by reflecting on our own individual associations with the symbols.  For example, I remember a dream in which I was teaching people to polka.  As I reflected on the dream, I realized I needed to be more playful or light-hearted.  Had I just looked up polka in a dream symbol book I might not have reached that insight.

By recording my dreams, reflecting on and praying about them, I find they truly are a  way for me to listen to God.

 

 

June 6, 2016 0 comment
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