The nativity story in the Gospel of Matthew is full of dreams. Like his Old Testament namesake, Joseph is forever having a dream telling him to this or that. Take Mary for his wife, even though the child she's carrying isn't his. Leave Bethlehem and head to Egypt before Herod starts his attack on infant boys. Leave Egypt because Herod is dead. But go to Galilee because Herod's son is now ruling in Judea. Then there's the dream the Wise Men had (collectively?) to go home via a Herod-avoiding route. But then, that's pretty much it. We get one more dream, from Herod's wife, at the trial of Jesus.
I think it's interesting that Jesus never dreams. Or it's never recorded that he dreams. And that the dreams are, almost exclusively, dreams of warning.
I dream often. I even often (not always) relate them on Facebook the next morning. I puzzle over some. Some have felt "more real" than others. For instance, I often dream of my deceased parents, but have only had a couple of dreams where I felt like I was being visited by one or the other. In at least one instance, I feel like I got some motherly advice.
But for the most part, I don't think of them as giving me such specific direction as "Got to Egypt" or "Avoid Herod." Oh, nearly four years ago, when I knew I had a mass on my pancreas, but didn't yet know what it was, I had a dream that in a convoluted way seemed to be my body telling me that what was going on was serious but not life-threatening---and it turned out to be right. That's about the extent of significant dreams, though.
I know other people put more stock in dreams than I do. That's sometimes most apparent in the responses I've gotten when I post the dreams to Facebook (not that I always get responses). I find them interesting and I suspect they have something to do with my inner life, and sometimes I know what it is, other times not so much.
It's New Year's Eve, the date when we tend to look forward, make plans (or resolve) for a better year ahead. We dream, but mostly waking dreams. Wishes. Maybe some hope, but I tend to distinguish between wishing and hoping and mostly we engage in wishful thinking.
This last week of 2016, I've not slept well. There have been dreams, yes, and even one that was a bit disturbing (I almost never have nightmares). Nothing that I would qualify as a warning dream, but perhaps I'm not "reading" them correctly. My waking hours are full enough of warning. Maybe my dreams don't need them.
All this free-association on dreams, biblical and personal, leads me to one thought: dreams, if they mean anything, require action. Joseph had to act on his dreams. The Wise Men, too. For dreams to have consequences, they have to move beyond the realm of dream and into the world of decision.
As the clock runs out on 2016 and we begin 2017, it is this that we might best recognize.