What did you dream of last night? The images in dreams are fuzzy for me (sometimes I dream in music). Often I cannot remember them. Dreams can turn weird or nightmarish too. Are they real? Perhaps this: the ideals and hopes and fears in them are more intensely real than what we see awake. Waking reality is weird, and we can’t truly perceive it: for example, two substances cannot truly touch, only repel. But Dreams, now that’s what can really touch us!
This is the darkest time of year for us in the northern hemisphere as we approach the winter solstice. A time perhaps for dreams. Those stars that light up our night sky reach into infinity – light coming from them comes from very far and is ancient. It reminds us of the awesome things in the midst of darkness. That darkness itself sparkles with the possibility of creation and brilliance and powerful forces, in other words that God is there. Our days begin with the night just as our lives begin in the darkness of the womb. Darkness is a beginning; light is coming. And Channah Senesh wrote of memories of those brilliant souls who have perished, but whose lives are inspiring: the stars that light the darkest nights are the lights that guide us.
The story of Joseph always begins on this week of Chanukah approaching. A season of dreams collides with a saga of Dreams and with the festival of lights. As we light more and more candles in defiance of the increasing darkness (to help coax the light back?) we retell a story of faith against the odds: of dreams and ideals against the crushing power of the mighty. From the song Never Give Up by Joel Sussman of Safam tells the story of the Macabees and Chanukah:
Never give up
From making the lantern light shine
Never give up
‘Cause there’s always another way….
Oh the miracle
Is that the light shines to this day
Yes it’s a miracle
That we still feel its rays
And Joseph, the dreamer, dreams of stars; and his dream touches the future just as real stars reach across time. And Joseph never gives up though he is in darkness that would plunge any person into despair. First thrown into a pit through the dark rage of his brothers’ jealousy, “Behold, the Master of Dreams comes,” they say. But in their sarcasm they’ve hit the nail on the head. Joseph is next thrown into a dark pit due to the treachery and lies of Potiphar’s wife (everything happens twice in Joseph’s story) Both times Joseph rises from the darkness because the dreamer never loses faith that God is with him, and never gives up. Just like the Macabees, outnumbered, in darkness, and rising against the odds. Another soul who changed reality with his dreams: the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, whose birthday we celebrate in another month;
I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.” I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood. I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.
Wow- talk about dreams being the brightest reality!
An inspiring song, Dreamers, by Leon and Beth Sher/ Beged Kefet, includes these words of light emerging from darkness
We each have lonely hours, we wonder how we’ll cope, we’ve been in darkness, drowning, deprived of all our hope.We question God’s great wisdom giving each of us free will, to trust, to choose, to do what’s right though we’re imperfect still. And then a leader comes, who’s not afraid to dream, a preacher leads with faith and dares each cynic to believe; A teacher makes her life a lesson so we won’t forget; the journey of a thousand miles begins with just one step;
Dreamers, we’re dreamers; Like a candle shining light where it is dark…..
Finally, this song by Dan Nichols is called To Be a Light. This Chanukah I hope it will help me to dream big: that my soul, in synergy with others, can BE a light in darkness When I fall, I will rise, In the dark, you’re my light. I will walk, love will lead, in the search for ones in need. And I want to know what it means to be a light. Light a candle, say a prayer, Shine a light on darkness somewhere.There is hope, this I trust, for the gracious and the just, And I want to know what it means to be a light. Remember, you are made of star dust. Dream – be a light! Chanukah Sameach!