One of my most enduring wishes is to dream about Jesus. Indeed I have often wondered why, on the eve of fifty years as a Catholic, I have never dreamt about Jesus.
Strange creatures with five heads, yes; flying through clouds over snow-covered mountains and winding rivers, yes; standing dumbstruck and panicked before a lecture hall full of expectant students, yes, many more times than I care to admit! But Jesus, the supposed object of my deepest religious desires and human longings, no, not once has Jesus come to me in a dream.
Yet Jesus speaks of his friends and followers with an intimacy that borders nearly on the erotic. “I know them. They hear my voice. No one can take them out of my hand.” (John 10:28) What is going on?
Maybe the voice of gentle reassurance comes to me in the constant refrain of the Psalms: “Do not be afraid. My home is within you.” And the unspoken question that follows: “Can you believe it?”
Jesus does not need to “come to me” in a dream because his home—who is Love, more real than any dream—already lives in me. Can I believe it? Can I quiet myself long enough to feel it? Can I sit with the Good Shepherd, hold confidence with him persistently enough, to know it?
In one of my favorite icons by Fr. Bill McNichols, “San Jose en el Rio Grande,” St. Joseph enfolds his son Jesus lovingly beneath his cloak, protecting the boy as he peers tentatively into a beautiful but perilous horizon. Like the boy, I cling to the mantle of a love greater, far more tested, than mine.
“Be at peace. My home is within you.” May I hear the voice of the good shepherd this day, and trust in him with firmness of heart. In doing so, may I risk this day the beautiful but perilous journey, and be Love’s mantle for those in my path who most need it.
Postscript: Fr. Bill’s blog and gallery of icons is here.