Artistry: Dreams and Visions
Dreams We Dare to Dream Really Can Come True
I am a dreamer. I admit it. Dreams come to me in two distinct ways:
• Night dreams while I sleep, and
• Day dreams that angered my teachers when I was a boy and endanger the safety of my transit through the real world to this day.
Each of these types of dreams is a blessing.
Visions in the night are stories with seemingly random characters, locations, and situations from my 60+ years on this earth. I have learned that they are not random at all. They are fantastic re-settings of my fears. The languages, characters, and predicaments are symbols and can be readily interpreted. While the conscious mind rests the subconscious mind is hard at work, processing the black and gray fears and mysteries of daily life. This, I believe, is an important ministry of the Spirit to help me identify and deal with these things. Dreams are born in our imagination and they also stir our imagination, dream feeding dream, vision illuminating vision until sleep and waking are mixed into a creative state where surprising details and intriguing ironies cling colorfully to each other in a narrative that terrifies us or comforts us according to drama of our daily life.
Daydreams are a part of the creative process. Artists are dreamers. Everything we create began as a dream, an inner vision, real only to us. We saw its completed form and we saw the process it would take to extract the dream from our minds, send it through our hands, and, finally, to share it with others. No longer a private dream visible only to us, the completed work is real: a song, a worship set, a poem, a painting, a play, something visible, audible, tangible, something others can evaluate and ponder and perhaps receive from it their own dream, their own inner vision. Judy Garland and composers Harold Arlen and E.Y. Harburg gave voice and image to our day dreams:
Somewhere over the rainbow skies are blue,
And the dreams that we dare to dream really do come true.
Dorothy Gale sang and Toto watched her as the tornado revved up behind her. When her dream stormed into her life her black and white world burst into Technicolor. There were strange new sights to see, but logic was no longer any help at all. The world of dreams had its own logic, its own rules, its own theology. Anything was possible from monkeys that flew to heartless men of tin, to lions devoid of courage, and to a man of straw who was smart enough to want a brain. Witches were good, bad, and vulnerable to water while a little man behind the curtain purported to be a wizard, cautioning others not to watch him too closely. The black and white world was real and the Technicolor world was a dream in which red shoes and yellow bricks had to guide Dorothy to the Wizard and transport her back home.
For the artist, night dreams and day dreams can work together.
Joel, an Old Testament Prophet of the End-times outpouring of the Holy Spirit, predicted that dreams and visions would be devices God would use to speak to those who follow Him.
I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. Joel 2:28 NIV
God has always spoken to creative people through their imaginations. It is important for each of us to see with the inner eye of the imagination the things that God wants us to create. Musicians, also, must hear new music with the inner ear of the imagination. Before the universe existed, God the Creator saw it in His mind. He has given that same gift to us. We need to recognize its importance in our lives and we need to look for it in others.
Our daughter, Nicole Phifer-Huett was in a local production of Les Miserables. A wonderful actor/teacher/director, she lives and breathes theatre. She knows how to release and refine the creativity of her students in the most remarkable ways.
When Nicole was only 5 years old, she was a busy little girl, always on the move and having fun. One night as we were rehearsing a play for a dinner theatre, Nicole stopped, pulled up a chair and watched a 3-hour rehearsal without moving anything but her head, back and forth, taking it all in. The Lord spoke to my heart, “This is what I have for her.” And it has been. She dreamed of living in NYC and she did, appearing in an off-off Broadway production before returning to teach in Florida. She knows how to dream and she has learned how to make the dream come true on stage. What’s more, she teaches middle school and high school kids to harness their dreams and ride them into reality.
This is a work of the Holy Spirit.
Six Ways We Dare to Dream
It is important to seek silence and solitude. The noise of postmodern life—traffic, meaningless dialogue, and random music—mitigates our dreams–it lessens them. Find quiet places and quiet times. In solitude, your dreams can order themselves for you. They are trying to be clearly seen and heard.
It has been said that the creative state is a state of prayer. I believe it. Trust your inner voice. The tunes that only you will write, the words that will only flow from your heart, the designs that are destined to flow from your mind, the colors that only you will see, the ironies that only you can reveal, all these things are in the mind of the Spirit, waiting for a prayer-filled solitude to make room for them.
Later on you can order the notes, but in your creative space, keep a record, a dated, detailed record of your thoughts. These notes are for you and you alone, so use any abbreviations and shorthand you want to that can help your hand keep up with your mind.
“Guard your heart,” the Bible says, “for it is the wellspring of life.” (Proverbs 4:23 NIV)
If you want to create with gold, don’t fill your heart with garbage. Read great books; listen to great music; watch great films, attend wonderful, live theatre. Let the great work of other artists feed your soul. Keep your eyes and ears open for truth and inspiration from surprising sources.
Find another creative person who can listen to you talk out your dream. As a dramatist, I have used story committees, just a few of my most creative production team members, to listen to my story and help me with details and plot problems. You will find your dream transfers to others and they may see something there you overlooked. Not everyone can bear this but those who can dream with you will be valuable to your dream because it will also be theirs, (a little!)
The moments before you fall asleep are very useful to you as an artist. You can actually start dreaming your dream before you go to sleep. I have no proof of this, but I believe this method of falling asleep concentrating on your project, initiates important subconscious work all through the night. If you wake up thinking about your work, pay close attention to the ideas that come to mind; your brain might have been working those things out all night!
To do the work of the church in these last days, we need daring dreamers, artists who can go to sleep dreaming and wake up working on their dreams, spiritual people who can see their dreams realized, finished, and out in the world for all to experience. The Kingdom of God demands daring dreams of scope and simplicity, color and character, sweep and significance. So, we dreamers must take wing to follow the bluebirds over the rainbow where the skies are blue and the dreams we dare to dream really do come true.
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