The Dream

2 min
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Last night I had a dream. In it I was walking down a country lane on a warm Spring day. Everything around me was lush and blooming and the air smelled of wildflowers. I walked slowly, savoring the day and the scene, until I came upon a large pond surrounded by trees. On its bank was a cherub-faced man of indeterminate age, dressed in work pants, a ball cap, and an old flannel shirt. He appeared to be tossing pebbles into the pond and watching intently as concentric ripples formed on the surface, radiated outward, and finally disappeared from view. As I was about to turn and continue my walk, the man looked directly at me and smiled kindly.

When our eyes met, my perception of the scene changed dramatically. I suddenly knew with clarity who he was and what he was doing. This was no ordinary individual. This was God. And he wasn’t tossing pebbles into a pond. He was engaged, instead, in the act of creating human lives. For each new life, he would drop a God-thought into the pond. The ripples that his thought created were a personification of the days and years of that human life. Wordlessly he illustrated for me what happened next. His mind followed the God-thought into the water and began traversing the ripples of that life. Starting from the center, he traveled across the surface of each ripple like a boat on a great wave, until the last one disappeared into the pond. In this way, he was able to experience each life completely.

Some of his boat trips were short because the ripples ended quickly. Some went on for a considerable distance. At times he would grimace in reaction to the life he was witnessing, sometimes he would smile, and occasionally I could hear him murmur softly, “Oh, that was a good one.” Fascinated and disturbed by what I saw, I looked up. As I did, I realized that there were many other individuals standing around the pond. Both male and female, they were of different races, wore a variety of ethnic clothing, and seemed to represent many religions. They were all engaged in the same activity--dropping thoughts into the water and watching the resulting lives unfold.

At that point I woke up. The dream had left me feeling unsettled. On one hand, the God figure in the dream was reassuring and comforting. On the other hand, the outcome was much less comforting. As an example of the ultimate meaning of life, the dream left much to be desired. It seemed to me that the best I could hope for, as the ripples of my life disappeared forever into the pond, was to hear my God saying, “Oh, that was a good one.” Then--oblivion?

In this frame of mind, I wandered into the living room and saw my teenage son sitting there. Should I tell him about the dream? Would it disturb him too? In the end I decided to share it with him. He was quiet for awhile. Then, in typical teenage fashion, he told me that I appeared to have missed the whole point of the dream. “It’s like what we learned in physics, Mom,” he said. “Energy can’t be lost or destroyed; it can only be transformed. The ripples are still there. You can’t see them anymore on the surface of the water, because they’ve changed form. But they’re still in the pond and they always will be.”

After that conversation I decided that my son’s interpretation of the dream was the one I’d rather adopt. After all, to paraphrase a biblical verse--Out of the mouths of babes can come great truth and wisdom.


I actually had the dream this story is based on about 20 years ago. Now I’m in my 70’s and find that my friends and family are ​disappearing into the pond​ with ever-increasing frequency. At times like those, I sometimes think of my dream and derive some comfort from the message my son helped me find there.

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