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.