Sometimes a source of comfort and encouragement comes in the form of a song. This is not surprising, music carries a resonance that goes beyond words. A song can magically bypass the thinking, label-making brain and bring us in touch with the Divine.
If you have been following my blog, you will know how fascinated I am with dreams. For many years, I have written them down, sometimes analysing them or allowing them to inform my practise as an artist and also guide me along my spiritual path. To put this dream in context with my life, I had been experiencing artist block, and just a general lack of confidence and direction in my arts practise. I was working on a painting with a kind of frustrated energy, painting then painting over things, changing composition and colour endlessly. It felt like I was going round and round in circles with no sense of agency or purpose. I was hovering dangerously close to full blown depression. This dream occurred in one of those lucid moments that happen just before waking up fully.
I was in a dark closet, playing a motivational tape by one of the teachers from ‘the Psychic Teachers’ podcast I used to listen to. There was ivy all around me. The teacher said, very clearly, “I am going to play a song and just really listen”. I recognised the song, it was ‘Dream Weaver’. My first reaction was how left field it seemed, it had never been one of my favourites or one I had connected to anything. As I heard the song I felt the presence of Jesus- a very real and palpable presence. Then I woke up.
I knew I needed to look into the symbolic content of this short dream. It had such a lucid and clear feel to it, like Spirit took an opportune moment to shoot an arrow into my psyche in the short moments where I was open enough to receive it. The first thing I found was the backstory to the song by Gary Wright:
“In 1972, my friend George Harrison invited me to accompany him on a trip to India. A few days before we left, he gave me a copy of the book Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda. Needless to say the book inspired me deeply, and I became totally fascinated with Indian culture and philosophy. My trip was an experience I will never forget. During the early ’70s while reading more of the writings of Paramahansa Yogananda, I came across a poem called God! God! God!. One of the lines in the poem referred to the idea of the mind weaving dreams and the thought immediately occurred to me, weaver of dreams… Dream Weaver. I wrote it down in my journal of song titles and forgot about it. Several months passed, and one weekend, while in the English countryside, I picked up my journal and came across the title ‘Dream Weaver.’ Feeling inspired, I picked up my acoustic guitar and began writing. The song was finished in an hour. The lyrics and music seemed to have flowed out of me as if written by an unseen source. After the record was released and became successful many people asked me what the song meant. I really wasn’t sure myself and would answer ‘it was about a kind of fantasy experience… a Dream Weaver train taking you through the cosmos.’ But I was never satisfied with that explanation, and as years went by I began to reflect on what the song actually meant and then it came to me: ‘Dream Weaver, I believe you can get me through the night…’ was a song about someone with infinite compassion and love carrying us through the night of our trials and suffering. None other than God Himself.”
Needless to say, these words comforted and blessed me beyond my ability to express. Even the way the song came together for him gave me so much encouragement. The alchemy and co-creation we get to participate in with God, it is truly wonderous.
“Nothing here below is profane for those who know how to see. On the contrary, everything is sacred.”Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
There is a quietness and comfort that can only be found in the everyday. I believe that the most intimate sense of the presence of the Spirit is found in the nuts and bolts of our daily lives. The rising in the morning, the dirty dishes, the mealtimes, the shopping. The things we must do in our daily lives are like sea masts that tether us to our sense of purpose, of usefulness.
We seem to be bent toward thinking that God lives elsewhere….somewhere majestic, or at least in some piece of nature that is particularly divine or spectacular. But God firmly and persistently meets us in the daily grind, right where we are, with no makeup and no pre-rehearsed words. In our clumsiness, our boredom, our failings, our addictions and doubts.
I can hear so many voices, from Jesus, the mystics and spiritual men and women throughout the ages, cautioning us of fruitlessness of seeking God as if God were to be found outside of ourselves. Together they form a beautiful life affirming cacophony of voices inviting us to embrace Divinity with childlike eyes of wonder…
Paul the Apostle:
“In God, (or Divine Source) we live and move and have our being”
Julian Of Norwich:
“Greatly ought we to rejoice that God dwells in our soul; and more greatly ought we to rejoice that our soul dwells in God. Our soul is created to be God’s dwelling place, and the dwelling of our souls is God, who is uncreated.”
St John of the Cross:
“However softly we speak, God is so close to us that he can hear us; nor do we need wings to go in search of him, but merely to seek solitude and contemplate him within ourselves, without being surprised to find such a good Guest there.” ~
Jesus in John 17:
“So that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us”
God is at home in you, where you are. You can speak to Spirit just as you are. Divine presence is always with you, wherever you are. You do not need any earthy being to mediate between you and God. Where you are, that’s where God is. Right now this moment. In your sacred space, at home.
And it is not necessary to have great things to do. I turn my little omelette in the pan for the love of God.Brother Lawrence
- Animal Totems
- Art as healing, dyslexia
- Art classes
- Art for mindfulness
- Art Muses
- art projects
- Art therapy
- Art tutorials
- art work
- Art Workshops
- artist's block
- Early childhood
- Egg tempera, renaissance
- Grief and art
- Inner Child
- Old stuff
- Recycled Materials
Music credit: “Ladies and Gentlemen we are Floating in Space” by Spiritualized
This post is dedicated to the many of us who struggle with insomnia, for whatever reason. I chose the word ‘suspended’ for the title of this post (and painting) quite deliberately. The experience of sleeplessness, for me anyway, feels like being suspended in a night-time bubble, somewhere between wakefulness and slumber. Sometimes it’s like being pushed and pulled by a relentless tide of anxiety offering no rest.
Yet I have had many tangible experiences of grace as I wrestle with this complex and frustrating state of being. I am left with the sense that there is something curious and mysterious about being in that night-time bubble.
Grace came to me in the moments between tenaciously trying to sleep and the overwhelm of giving up.
Grace came in the little snippet of time where my mind was side-lined, where God seemed to divide my bones and marrow and allow me to perceive The Presence that exists within and beyond myself.
Grace came in the peculiar kind of silence where God speaks without words.
Grace was in the invitation to surrender to the world that is moving and happening, invisible to the matrix-like world of the everyday.
If I hold on to these experiences- which are so hard to describe- I can see that this invitation, this grace is always there.
Thomas Merton (1915-1968) beautifully expresses the way we are held by God in these restless hours:
Insomnia can be form of contemplation. You just lie there, inert, helpless, alone, in the dark, and let yourself be crushed by the inscrutable tyranny of time. The plank bed becomes an altar and you lie there without trying to understand any longer in what sense you can be called a sacrificeThomas Merton, The Sign of Jonas
There is a river of wisdom, affection and healing that we access at the very heart of our frailty. May we all journey forward with our nets full of gifts as we are graced to lean into Spirit long enough to hear her whispers.