Lenten Reflection: Dare to dream again

Feb. 14, 2024

“I decided to read the book’s final chapter at my local coffee shop,” shared my friend Christine last week.

So she settled into a comfortable chair, ordered her favorite latte, and prepared for a few hours of uninterrupted quiet time.

“Excuse me,” interrupted the man in the adjacent chair. “I’m curious… What book are you reading?”

I’m sure you’ve experienced similar moments when your anticipated solitude is disrupted. Perhaps it’s the chatty guy beside you on the plane, sharing their political opinions. Or you’ve just settled in with your favorite mystery novel after putting the kids down for a nap, only for the doorbell to ring. Inconvenient and annoying interruptions happen. Christine silently deliberated how to respond. Reluctantly, she chose to engage.

“It’s called Created to Dream,” replied my friend, pondering whether to delve into the religious nature of the book. That could either end the conversation or open a door.

She bravely pressed on.

“Essentially, it’s about God giving us a dream to make the world a better place,” she explained. “And then life has a way of getting in the way and suffocating those dreams.”

Surprisingly, the gentleman asked another question. Then another.

“Chapter six is titled ‘Dead Ends’,” concluded Christine. “It begins with words like cancer, infertility, bankruptcy, divorce, death… You know, the things that might stop you from dreaming.”

“So, what’s stopping you back from dreaming?” pressed the man, now getting a bit personal. Christine risked vulnerability.

“My marriage unexpectedly ended a year ago, after 38 years,” she shared. “Everything that defined my identity—wife, partner, companion—has been called into question. It’s taken a year just to figure out who I am again.”

Empathetically, the stranger nodded.

“After the shock of divorce wore off, I decided I wasn’t going to grow bitter and angry. I’ve opened myself to self-reflection, growth, and making space for God to move. I’m almost ready to dream again.”

So, what does Christine’s story have to do with this season called Lent? Lent, as I understand it, is a self-imposed 40-day journey of self-reflection and self-examination. It’s choosing to take responsibility for our spiritual lives by examining some of the old narratives and stories that control us.

It’s opening ourselves to God’s new possibilities, perhaps even calling us to dream a new dream, no matter what stage of life we find ourselves in.

Recently the words of Angel Williams challenged me:  “It’s not your fault, but it’s your responsibility.  It is quite true that there are many conditions in life that confer a less-than-desirable experience. But it is also true that at the end of your days on this planet, your life will have been lived only by you.”

Williams continues….”How you experience whatever conditions life hands you correlates directly to how much responsibility you choose to take. None of us can control all (if any) of the conditions, but we can choose how we experience the conditions we find ourselves in.”

Not all of us are thrust into identity-evaluating experiences like Christine. I know she wouldn’t wish her experience on anyone. Yet sometimes, a life-altering event is the only thing that forces us into deeper reflection. But it’s not the only path forward. Once again, we’ve been given a chance to pause and do the necessary inner work needed to give our full heart back to God. Perhaps we can even dream again.