My Father: Five Foundational Lessons on Dreaming
In his own way, my father was a great dreamer. Only once in my entire life did he tell me about a night dream, although I am sure I told him many of mine. But he understood many key principles to dreaming and he understood much about the power of the imagination. The seeds my father sowed provided foundation for me as a Dreamer.
My father’s experiencing of life was infinite. As a rancher, he spent his days riding horseback across unending plains in contemplative solitude, discovering surprising canyons and cottonwood-lined creeks that a glance across the flat land concealed. He drove miles across state lines to do business with other ranchers, and these long trips took many side roads that put him in contact with little-known people who possessed extraordinary skills or intriguing eccentricities—a silversmith in this small town, a leather-worker in a small house a hundred miles off the paved road—picking up from them bits of wisdom and perspectives of how a life can be lived. And he flew his own plane across the country, landing in places as different as little-used strips of asphalt surrounded by corn fields to San Francisco International. He was unbound by physical constraints.
My father seemed molded of the earth. He lived in the land, with the land and the plants and beings that populated it, and loved people and solitude equally. Most of all, he loved dreaming. His mind, thoughts, and ideas spanned the horizons. He lived both close to the planet and soared above it. Living with the seasons, the weather, and the rhythms of life, he observed miracles and lived the miraculous in nature and living.
Perhaps because of this, my father believed unequivocally in the infinite power of the mind and our imagination. As a child, if I would get sick my father would tell me to lie down in the sun. He would instruct me to feel the sunbeams on my body, warming me, and then slowly feel the beams coming into my body putting light on all the bad bacteria to banish them away. Other times he would tell me to lie down in the grass and imagine friendly ants coming up through my feet and marching all through my body, eating all the bad bacteria and viruses and then marching back out my feet once they had completed their task. He also told me that if I understood this I would never have to be sick—that my mind would always be able to heal my body if I allowed it to, and if I helped it to do so.
I was fortunate to spend a lot of time with my father, at his side as we burned miles across seemingly endless dirt roads, or trotting our horses shoulder to shoulder for long hours across pastures. During these times, he would point out what moved him, bring his thoughts to the surface for me to hear—all the while teaching me.
These experiences with my father, and his healing images, laid the foundation for the rich imagery I would learn and teach in the tradition of imagery and dreaming that I follow. My experiences with him grounded me in the physical understanding that we move with the seasons, and that we are inextricably in relationship to all the beings of the planet and even the planets and systems beyond it. It grounded me in my body, and my body to the earth, and taught me that in the expressing and unfolding of these relationships God is revealed.