Dreams come easily to me during the night. While I rarely sleep during the daytime,when I do I’ll dream then too. Mostly I don’t dwell on my dreams, letting them alone to have their way, and be forgotten. Some, though, are so vivid, so intense, that I have to write them down so that I can later return to them to take a closer look.
Early one morning recently, I dreamed two interesting dreams that persisted in my mind for some time. In one, I am on my touring bicycle, in the left lane of a road. I am about to turn left on to a highway that rises sharply upward into the mountains. A car that might be a Land Rover with a large pipe grill guard appears from my left, and looks like it is going to force me to move right. I desperately want to stay in the left lane, and I refuse to move over. As the vehicle comes up next to me, I seem to know now what the driver is going to do; he’s going to let me catch a ride with him. I grasp the front grill guard with my left hand and the Land Rover powers me up the hill. All is going well until we come to an overhead bridge crossing the highway. It looks like I won’t be able to make it underneath it. This doesn’t make sense, of course, as I am riding next to the man. We do make it beneath the bridge, and I see that there is plenty of room. Then we come to another bridge. I am not going to make it under this one. Some how I am now on top of his vehicle and I must ride on to the overhead bridge. I do so, and stop. I look around and I see that this isn’t a normal bridge, and that I’m stuck up on what appears to be a roof across the highway with no way done.
In another bicycle dream the following day, I was on same stretch of highway. The other vehicle was going the same speed as I was, and we came to the top of the mountain at the same time. But apparently the other vehicle was in need of a rest, or its occupants. I offered to take them to my grandparents home, which in the dream was close to that mountain pass. We arrived and were sorting out where we were going to sleep, when I saw my grandmother sleeping on the deck. She got up and I thought it odd that she was there, as I’d thought my grandparents were away. Then my grandfather came in and we spoke for a minute. I left the room and the people I’d brought to the house began to speak with my grandparents in either Norwegian or Dutch. I thought that odd, as I didn’t think my grandparents spoke any other language except English. At some point we were all getting ready to leave, and I had a plant I was going to leave with my grandparents. I also was leaving some stuff in a locker in their house.
Looking at these dreams, I discover that the highway is Highway 101, the old 101, from back in the early 1970s, where it ascends from San Luis Obispo, CA, to a pass near Cuesta Peak. The highway continues north along the Salinas river, past Atascadero and Paso Robles, then onward to San Miguel and Camp Roberts. I am very familiar with this highway. I lived in the area many years. Back to the dream. It seems that in the first dream someone is trying to help me, and ends up getting me into a mess. In the second dream, the people are alongside, but later at the summit I help them. The end of the dream is okay.
This morning it occurred to me why I don’t immediately mull over my dreams when I arise. The day begins too quickly; the clock alarm sounds, I rise up to awake the dawn. . .
My heart is steadfast, O God,
my heart is steadfast!
I will sing and make melody!
Awake, my glory!
Awake, O harp and lyre!
I will awake the dawn!
I will give thanks to you, O Lord, among the peoples;
I will sing praises to you among the nations.
For your steadfast love is great to the heavens,
your faithfulness to the clouds.
Be exalted, O God, above the heavens!
Let your glory be over all the earth.
. . . though certainly not as King David describes.
Up at 5:30. First things first, letting out the dogs, feeding the cats. Making a salad for my wife to take to work, and coffee in a travel mug for her to sip during her commute. Wishing her well as she leaves the house. Asking of the Lord His blessings upon our family, to watch over us, to work in and through us—all while cleaning up the kitchen mess. Doing dishes left from the night before. Adding to a list kept handy things to buy from the store on the next trip. Thinking of things to be done during the day. Letting the dogs inside, giving them each a biscuit.
Whew! Deep breath. . . fix a bowl of oatmeal, add honey, pour a cup of coffee. Open Daily Tehillim and find the day’s Psalm. Today it’s Psalm 39. King David is writing the Psalm “To the Chief Musician; for Yetoodoon.” I switch over to another web page to search on Yetoodoon, wanting to know to whom King David refers. I’m easily distracted. I look at an email. I think of something that I want to do tomorrow, that needs some preparation today. I push my head back to the Psalm. It’s a Psalm about the fragility of humankind. According to one commentary (Jamieson, Fauset, and Brown), “. . .depressing views of his frailty and the prosperity of the wicked, the Psalmist, tempted to murmur, checks the expression of his feelings, till, led to regard his case aright, he prays for a proper view of his condition and for the divine compassion.”
Behold, thou hast made my days as handbreadths; And my life- time is as nothing before thee: Surely every man at his best estate is altogether vanity.
“David composed this chapter while suffering from a painful and debilitating illness, which caused him such discomfort and distress that he had to restrain himself from speaking harshly against God.” — Daily Tehillim
I recall a sermon in which the preacher explained that King Solomon was severely depressed when he wrote Ecclesiastics, and declared Vanity, Vanity. All is Vanity. The sermon attempted to counter this depressing notion; it echoed the theme, “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Huh! I suppose depression ran in the family then, as King David says it too. Or perhaps there is another way of looking at life here on Earth. “In our greatest health and prosperity, every man is altogether vanity, he cannot live long; he may die soon. This is an undoubted truth, but we are very unwilling to believe it. Therefore let us pray that God would enlighten our minds by his Holy Spirit, and fill our hearts with his grace, that we may be ready for death every day and hour.” — Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary.
Psalm 39, while somber, teaches “the proper approach to suffering. David does not purport to give a definitive explanation for suffering, and he acknowledges the instinctive drive to challenge divine justice during periods of pain and anguish. He demands, however, that a person overcome this natural tendency and approach suffering as a call to introspection and repentance. Rather than insist on his righteousness and cast allegations against God, one should instead recognize his frailty and shortcomings and appeal to the Almighty for compassion and forgiveness.” — Daily Tehillim.
It’s almost nine o’clock in the morning. There are people to pray for, things to do, maybe even places to go. And I still want to watch the rest of a YouTube video of a sermon by Pastor David Wilkerson, “Moving your Mountain.”
And what of last night’s dreams? I have yet to take a complete look at the two bicycle dreams, let alone the many that I’ve had since. Are dreams meant to be examined, explained? Or do they operate on us without intervention?
Wait. I return to Daily Tehillim commentary on Psalm 39 in which the author says, “David does not purport to give a definitive explanation for suffering. . .” Here’s the rub, as the expression goes: good people and children suffer. Who can watch shows about St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital and the kids it treats without feeling so badly for the children with cancer. Children. Suffering. Dying. We question why bad things happen. We question why bad things happen to good people. The Lord Y’shuaJesus was asked about a man’s disabilities and what sin was it that caused it. Job’s wife, responding to Job’s suffering, told him to curse G-d and die. It’s G-d’s fault. He’s to blame. Should we raise our fists toward Heaven, cursing G-d for the suffering of good and innocent people?
The lesson from King David is that despite suffering, whether ours or others’, we must hold our tongues, restrain ourselves, from speaking harshly against G-d. We must learn to find some contentment—as Apostle Paul did—in all things. The question may not be why people suffer, why we suffer, but rather are we so righteous, so good, that we shouldn’t suffer. Isn’t that vanity?