Today is the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington and Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” speech. It seems like a good day to reflect upon dreams and dreamers, and their importance in our lives. Sleep experts believe dreams can have a restorative effect on our mental well-being and interruption or lack of dream sleep is detrimental to our physical health. Dreams have been the inspiration of poetry, art, song and scientific creations throughout time. So it is true to say that dreams are essential to our physical, mental and spiritual health.
Unfortunately, the world often dismisses the dreamer. We have all heard people say things like: “stop day-dreaming,” or “In your dreams!” (sarcastically) or “you’re living in a dream world.” In a culture where everything is tested, measured and scientifically proven before we trust the information, dreams don’t have much credibility. But it is necessary for us to remember today some of the the dreams and dreamers who have changed our lives and even the course of history.
I had the opportunity to visit the Martin Luther King, Jr. monument a few weeks ago in Washington, D.C. It was a moving experience and brought back many childhood memories for me. In 1963, Civil rights leaders had a dream about a march to the nation’s capital to advance the message for equality and dignity for all people. Politicians and people in authority told them not to do it. They said it wasn’t possible, that it would lead to violence and derail their cause. But they followed their dream and undergirded it with hard work and conviction. And the result was historic. An estimated 250,000 dreamers came together peacefully that day to hear Martin Luther King, Jr. give his greatest speech, saying “I have a dream…” Martin Luther King dared to dream and the world was changed.
We have the example of dreamers in our faith history. Often accounts of angels or God coming to someone in a dream are recounted. Joseph of the Hebrew scriptures and of course Joseph the husband of Mary are two people we are told, trusted their dreams as Divine Inspiration and acted upon them.
We have a great role model in St. Joseph. It was only Joseph’s faith in his dreams that allowed him to stand by Mary and commit to being her husband. Without this dreamer our salvation history would not have been possible. And again, we know the story of Joseph being told in a dream to take his family to Egypt for their safety. This crazy dreaming carpenter was willing to trust his dream and God’s plan, even when it meant leaving everything behind and going to a strange land.
Dreaming is important. Trusting our dreams and having the courage to act on them is even more important. St. Joseph and Martin Luther King, Jr. both live on in our history and in our creative imaginations. Their memories encourage us to always keep our dreams alive and trust in God’s plan for a better life, a better world, a better tomorrow.