I used to imagine dreams were like clouds. These ethereal inspirations seemed to float above, waiting to be chased and caught. Of course, catching a cloud was never easy. It will slip through the holes of a butterfly net and the noise from a vacuum would send the skittish dreams in a thousand directions. The only hope to catch one of these dream clouds was to learn to jump high enough to wrap your arms around the dream, and then hold on for dear life as that dream dodged and weaved into the stratosphere.
Like I said, I used to imagine dreams this way.
I got tired of looking up to the heavens in search of my dreams. I got tired to straining my eyes against the eternal blue of a cloudless sky, hoping to see a white speck I could jump for. When those white puffs of magic and inspiration did appear, my leaping always left me in the same place: face down in the dirt.
A good inspirational speaker would tell you to get up, dust your self off, and jump again. I’m not an inspirational person. I’m a manic depressive Christian with a craving for the written word. In other words, I spend lots of time in the dirt.
Dirt. Earth. Dust. The stuff of humanity. The stuff of incarnation.
Maybe dreams are meant to be in the dirt. Maybe dreamers are more like farmers.
These days I believe dreams aren’t meant to be chased; dreams are meant to be grown. From seed, to sapling, to young trunk, to towering oak: dreams grow from the ground up.
Dream from the roots.
Those of us that live in the work of dreaming need to be people with roots if we hope to grow a good dream. Not the kind of roots that keep you in one location. The roots that we need are values, principles, virtues. Roots like these keep us grounded, buried deep in the soil. Roots like these keep our dreams alive, nurtured, growing. With good roots, good principles, leading us, we discover that we dream not by leaping to catch the wisp of a dream, but rather we dream by digging deep, tilling the soil of our soul, sweating over what matters.
We dream from the roots up.
Sometimes it takes someone else’s work of dreaming to help us find our own roots.
Today, when I think of God’s Whisper Farm, I think of fruit. Specifically, I think of the tilling, sowing, nurturing, and harvesting that goes into the enjoyment of my pear. Each step is done in it’s correct season, and they all exist in a rhythm that is unique to each crop. Even with all the differences, they all com from the same soil, the same plot of God hallowed ground.
So, here’s what I’m dreaming with you: a farm where each of us can come, alone or together, sometimes alone together, and sometimes come together. We come for the different seasons we are in, to find a place for our soil to be tilled, readied and broken from years of weathering. Some of us come to find seed, to help it take root and begin the life cycle again. Some of us come with shoots and sprouts, looking to water each other and find food for our growing transformation from bud to bloom. Some of us go to be harvested, to pass the bounty to waiting hands and mouths, To finally taste the juice of the autumn orchard with other workers around a table filled with bounty and spiced wine.
We come to work, to be worked on. Some of that work is rest, gathering strength and dream stuff and sleep and inspiration. Some of that work is back breaking sweat, blistered fingers on guitar strings, ink stained hands, paint smeared faces. Some of that work is passing the basket of apples to others so that they may be fed, rejoice, and kick ass with us.
That is what I imagine as I think of God whispering to us on your plot of hollowed ground.
I wrote these words to my friend Andi Cumbo on November 1, 2012, the day she told her blog readers she was beginning work on God’s Whisper Manifesto. The roots that Andi lays down for Gods Whisper Farm is a dark beer: rich, complex, deep, and good for the soil of soul. I find my self nurtured by these roots; I find my self guided by these ten values. Things like love, a shared table, the value of art, comfort, rest, and dreaming bigger than before. As I read the words in this little book, I found my heart saying yes; I found the roots to my own dream. This vision of community, of family, of lives healing into being fully alive… this is what I want to be part of. A community that works hard at the things that matters. A community that plays hard, drunk with enjoyment at the bounty and beauty of the grace of the Lord. A place where people who need art, who bleed art, whose bones are etched with words, painting, and songs… a place where we artists can gather and be on the hallowed ground of our mother earth. A table where we can bring our fruits to share and to be nourished by the bread of our friends and family in this artist way.
I know I’m kind of waxing poetic about an English teaching farm girl/writer and her acres in the Virginia mountains… but that’s what happens when you dream in the dirt. When you reach your roots down deep and plant your values, the dreams you grow will be shade, home, and fresh produce to all who hear those profound, small whispers.
So dream in the dirt
Dream from the pants you put on, the shirt that goes over your head, and from the shoes you lace up and tie on for the day. Dream from that mud stain you got on your carpet a few months back. Dream from the pile of dust you swept up in the kitchen and the water spotted mirror in the bathroom. Dream from the list of things that need your attention as you get every room in order. Dream from the dishwasher running it’s loud mouth as it froths and rinses and splashes your plates. Dream from the slowly simmering smells drifting from the stove. Dream from the cold cup of coffee you just took a swig of, in need of an energy boost. Dream from the microwave as you reheat that cup of coffee for the third time today. Dream from the table being set. Dream from the electric bill you will pay as you keep the laptop lid open and loud as or favorite play lists repeat in the room just for the atmosphere. Dream from the twenty thousand trips you make from the kitchen to the table in a scurrying effort to not forget any little thing. Dream from the one trip more. Dream from the loaf of bread you keep snatching bites from. Dream from the clock that reminds you they are almost here. Dream from the anxiety of not wanting to forget anything. Dream from the bathroom as you finally go pee. Dream from the mirror as you make sure your hair isn’t in too much chaos and your shirt not too splattered with cooking spots. Dream from the door as you welcome your friends and companions home.
Dream from the roots; dream in the dirt.