If there is one Old Testament account that is a must for every adult and child of faith it is the Exodus epic which begins with Joseph and his amazing technicolour dreamcoat.
The entire saga is a pre-Christian primer in discernment preparing us for a God who in Jesus is available, personal, powerful, and eager to carry us through any captivity and challenge through death to resurrection.
As I ponder Joseph the dreamer beginning this great Old Testament adventure I’m thinking of Pope Francis’s recent book Let us Dream: The Path to a Better Future.
Francis begins his book referring to our contemporary context in these early years of the third Christian millennium convinced that the pandemic we are experiencing is (as was Joseph being sold into slavery) a crisis that both challenges and changes us: “The basic rule of a crisis is that you don’t come out of it the same. If you get through it, you come out better or worse, but never the same.”
Such an ability to not only survive but to thrive through a difficult situation (and even a crisis) is the measure of human (and therefore of Christian) maturity.
While this thriving is a human desire, it is a divine achievement.
Francis often speaks of dreaming and discerning in the same paragraph: “when you lose the capacity to dream you lose the capacity to love and the energy to love is lost.”
Remembering this Old Testament Joseph, and Joseph the spouse of Mary (whose feast day we celebrate tomorrow), Francis refects that neither settled for survival but both were dreamers aware that “dreams were considered a means by which God revealed Himself.”
While dreaming is usually considered a sleep-time activity, people of faith are also day-dreamers.
Now there’s a great Lenten penance – giving time to the divine activity of day-dreaming. This is a pretty-good definition of the contemplation that is the highest form of Christian prayer: day-dreaming with God.
The great thing about setting time for day-dreaming is that there is no programme, no right way and wrong way, it’s the ultimate in mind and heart relaxation. That’s why it’s such a good analogy.for prayer.
We are not in control.
While Jesus can break into our lives any place any time, when we set time to listen for the voice of Jesus letting our minds and hearts wander and wonder, Jesus doesn’t miss a chance to get through to us.