First Monday in Lent: Dreams

Now Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers they only hated him the more.
Genesis 37:5, RSV

Dreamers are often misunderstood. Joseph was a dreamer, and his father’s favorite child. Joseph’s brothers hated him because of his favored status, and because the family patriarch had given him an “amazing Technicolor dreamcoat” as a token of esteem and affection. Joseph’s brothers hated him even more when he began to share his dreams with them. They hated him so much that they finally sold him into slavery and told his grief-stricken father that he was dead.

Maybe it’s safer not to dream—or at least not to share those dreams with anyone else. Why risk mockery or even death?

Teachers can be dream-killers or dream nurturers. Dream-killers discourage, rather than encourage, children. Dream-killers scoff and mock and deride. Dream-killers say, “Forget about it. You don’t have what it takes.” Every child has probably had at least one dream-killing teacher in his or her life. Fortunate are those who also have had at least one teacher who knows how to nurture dreams.

When I first started teaching, I came up with a signature that I add under my name; it goes out on every e-mail I send: “Weaving Dreams, Telling Stories, Changing Lives.” That’s not just a slogan devised by some slick advertising agency on Madison Avenue, it’s my life:

Your dream is safe with me, child.
I will never mock you or deride you.
I will never sneer and say, “Forget it.”
You will never hear me scoff, “You’re not good enough,
not smart enough, not strong enough.”
You’re as good as any other dreamer.
You’re as smart as you need to be to make
your dream take shape.
You’re so strong you can hold on to your dream
for as long as you need to,
no matter what happens,
until that dream comes true—that’s how strong you are.
Your dream is safe with me, child.
Your dream is safe with me.

Many people think that Lent is primarily a season of deprivation. “What are you giving up for Lent?” is a common question.

I prefer to see Lent as a season for dreaming, as a time for envisioning new possibilities and looking forward with hope to the day when those possibilities will become realities through planning and hard work.

When I return to my classroom tomorrow, one of the first things I’m going to do is say to my students is “What’s your dream?”

And then I’m going to listen, not just with my ears, but also with my heart.

Posted on February 22, 2010, in encouraging words, Lent. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. I’m a dreamer too, my friend. Sorry I haven’t gotten here lately…

  2. whoops that was me (the above comment)

  3. Beautiful post! I like to think I’m helping (in some small way) give feet to my students’ dreams… help them take their first wobbly steps in getting there.

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