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COVID-19: A pastor’s perspective: Meanings of Dreams during the Pandemic

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Have you been dreaming more than usual during this time of pandemic? The experts say we all dream, but not all of us remember these subconscious moments that emerge in our sleep. Perhaps the real question is, Are you remembering more of your dreams during this time?

In recent weeks, there has been much written and said about dreams and the pandemic. I think we all daydream about when this will be over and what we will do when we are free again. Daydreaming may be for some of us a coping mechanism. According to the articles, it seems that the night dreams are the real story.

The COVID-19 pandemic has certainly brought my dream life alive. This is huge because I am not a dreamer per se. For me, dreams are often like jokes, I cannot remember them. These days, however, I have been remembering my dreams. I have found that my dreams are spanning time and space. I could probably qualify for significant frequent-flyer dream miles as some have taken me back into the past. I have even had a few dreams from my days as a student in Rome in which I was actually conversing in Italian.

This has been an unprecedented time for all of us. The thoughts and implications of what is happening and not happening consume our waking days and sleeping nights.

A few weeks ago I remember having a dream of riding this big horse. The horse led me up this tall mountain, which was so steep I could only see the sky. The experience was so frightening that I somehow, as a novice rider, got the horse to back up and descend the mountain.

This dream is pregnant with meaning for me. For the record, I have only gone horseback riding once in my life. I will never do it again. The experience happened five years ago in Indiana during a mini-sabbatical for priests at St. Meinrad Archabbey. The horse was 20 years old. I did not know him, and he did not know me. I remember sitting so high from the ground that I felt as though I was on the top seat of a Ferris wheel. When the ride was over, I wanted to kiss the ground.

That particular dream brought me face-to-face with the fear and utter lack of control of this moment in which we find ourselves. This moment already seems like an eternity. The fear was so riveting it awakened me from sleep.

Last night I remember dreaming of a dance studio where the people were all blindfolded but kept dancing. Even though they could not see what was in front of them, they continued to dance. They did not allow blindness to stop them from living life. They were dancing by faith and not by sight.

I am sure that there have been days when we have become paralyzed and stopped living life in a customary way. Perhaps we looked at life rather than lived it. Although the future is unknown, there is more horseback riding to come. Some people really enjoy the thrill. There is also more dancing ahead. God wants us to be joyful. And certainly, we can count on more dreams that we hope are not nightmares.

The Gospel of Matthew details four dreams that St. Joseph had. In the first dream, Matthew is told to not be afraid to take Mary as his wife (cf. Mt 1:20-21). Joseph had no idea what the future held but, in faith, embraced it. What a model he is for us. St. Joseph, pray for us!

FATHER DAVID J. BONNAR, editor of The Priest, is a pastor of 15 years in the Diocese of Pittsburgh, where he has served in numerous roles. Follow and like The Priest magazine on Facebook.

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