Priest and Jungian analyst John Sanford offers seven ways God may be communicating through nighttime visions.
Do you ever wonder what your dreams are saying? Do you feel like God is speaking to you? If so, why does it seem like a foreign language? The book Dreams: God's Forgotten Language written by a priest and Jungian analyst, John Sanford, has helped me decode some of what’s happening. Here’s what Sanford says:
1) All dreams have meaning.
It’s so easy to dismiss a dream by saying it was because of a weird TV show I watched or something I ate. Sanford writes that this may not always be the case. God communicates to us in our dreams, he says, as God did in biblical times. We need to pay attention.
2) The dreamer should talk about the dream.
Talk to a friend, talk to your pastor, talk to your spouse, talk to yourself. “It is, after all, the dreamer’s dream,” says Sanford, “so it is reasonable to assume that the dreamer might hold the clues to the dream’s meaning.” In the Bible, dreamers often talked to God about their dreams. No reason we can’t do the same.
3) Dreams speak to us through symbols.
The symbols come from two places: our personal experience and a universal language. The other night I had a dream about crawling down a tunnel to the subway. That made sense: I take the train every day. It’s part of my personal experience. But the symbolic meaning was also found in the probing nature of a tunnel.
4) Ask yourself how the dream made you feel.
The best rule for interpreting a dream is on the basis of your feelings. “Whether or not an interpretation is true can be judged by the extent to which the dreamer feels it to be meaningful,” writes Sanford. I’ve had dreams that seemed bizarre, but the end result was reassuring. Trust those feelings.
5) Dreams take us to places we wouldn’t normally go.
Look where Jacob’s ladder took him. Think of how dreams changed the course of Joseph’s life. In our busyness we are unlikely to notice those epiphanies. No surprise that a dream is meant to catch our attention.
6) Write your dreams down.
Jotting things down on a pad of paper in the middle of the night has never worked for me. Instead, first thing in the morning, I write whatever I remember on my cell phone. I’m not likely to remember the dream later in the day. But there it is on memo.
7) Dreams are ahead of us.
Not long ago I had a dream about the composer Leonard Bernstein. I hadn’t been thinking of him that day or listening to his music. But there it was. I wrote the dream down. A couple of hours later I got an email from our choir director asking if I’d sing a Bernstein song at church.
Did my unconscious know this? Was God given me a preview of coming attractions? You be the judge!