Let Us Pray -or- I Say a Little Prayer for You

Jennifer, 35

In my dream, I was traveling alone on a large jet airplane. I attempted to sit near the middle of the plane (there were no other passengers), but a mechanic was repairing some of the seats which were broken, and directed me to sit in another near the window, on the left side of the plane. Suddenly he said, We're going down! We're going down!, and as I looked out the window to my left, saw that the ground & buildings were very quickly coming up, and I felt a strong descent, and knew I was going to die. I didn't have a sensation of fear, but sadness that I hadn't had a chance to pray. As the plane crashed into the ground and I 'died', a very thick, heavy feeling took over my whole body, beginning with heat in my feet. I could not take a breath in, but did not feel smothered, just still and heavy. The last thought I had before waking up was that I was waiting for my soul to exit my body & go to heaven, or at least feel the presence of God, but I felt nothing but this quiet heaviness, and I knew I was dead.

This dream was the most disturbing dream I've ever had, and on the heels of a wonderful, perfect Mother's Day. I'm a recently born-again Christian.

Associations to this Dream

The day I had the dream began with my daughter giving a talk about me in her church, and among other things, she said that although I'd not been nurtured as a child, I'd made a decision to be a good mother & parent well, and that there has never been a day when she hasn't felt very loved by me (and my husband).  It stirred up a lot of emotion, mostly good, and also some wistfullness.  My mother is a good person, but cold & distant, and didn't want to have children.  Since I've become a Christian, I've been able to forgive her completely in my heart, & let go of a lot of sadness and love her (I probably couldn't have done this on my own, but only with that higher power that I feel so personally now).  She's not too happy with my exit from Catholicism, though, and would like to see me return to the fold, so to speak!  Don't know if this has any relevance, though.

The only other thing is that my faith journey takes work every day, and I'm trying very hard to live what I believe, without getting preachy or judgmental in any way - I know how this turns people off.  We have a lot of "bad boys" and "bad girls" in our family, and they're not too happy that I've stepped quietly away from certain things, even though I try to keep things light.  I think they'd like me to fail in this, frankly, because it makes them a bit uncomfortable.  Does that make sense? And finally, I hate to fly, period.  I do it, but don't like it.  I somehow don't see this as a prophetic dream at all, but I was so disappointed when I "died" in the dream, only to find that there was nothing waiting for me to go to.  Anyway - just some random thoughts.

Thanks for whatever light you can shine on this!

Mr Hagen's Reply: Let us Pray

"To be a Christian without prayer is no more possible than to be alive without breathing."          Martin Luther King Jr.

..."And my ending is despair. Unless I be relieved by prayer..." William Shakespeare The Tempest

Many religions have different beliefs, some believe that there is life before birth, they believe in reincarnation, some believe in life after death. The question of there being an afterlife is impossible to answer. I believe that the answer is truly beyond human comprehension. Instead I am driven by a different question, is there life after birth and before death? That is the question we need to answer. Philosophy is devoted to this question and the search for its answers. What is the meaning of life and death? It is in this sense that you appear to have asked, what is the meaning of my dream?  

Now to your dream. There may be a number of ways to read this dream. At the end of your dream, you are waiting, desiring or expecting to feel the presence of God. What you seem to desire is a "mystical" experience, yet instead you feel nothing, which in philosophy is known as "nihilism". Nihilistic feelings could represent a crisis in spiritual faith. Mystical or religious experiences which reveal the meaning of life through revelation or enlightenment of the divine can be achieved through prayer. You state in the text about the dream that you sent, that you felt "sadness that you hadn't had a chance to pray".  

For the most part, prayer can be viewed as being a dialogue with God. Judaism, Christianity and Islam are all religions that attempt to affirm this dialogue with God. This dialogue exists not only on a conscious but also an unconscious level (i.e. in your dreams). In archetypal philosophy the concept of a dialogue can be viewed through the concept of "soul work" which has been used by James Hillman. Some of his books include Suicide and the Soul, The Soul's Code and The Dream and the Underworld. The sadness that you feel for not having prayed is known as grief work. In your associations you sent concerning the dream, you state that your mother was a "distant" and "cold" mother and that you felt a great deal of sadness (grief) because of this. It appears that the dialogue that you have had with your mother reflects your failed desire for closeness and warmth. Your mother then appears as the dark Jungian archetype of the terrible mother whose personifications as messengers of death and the horrors of life can be found in such mythology as Hecate and Medusa.

Dreamwork and Faithwork

Combining all these ideas and you can see that in our dreams that dreamwork is aimed at creating dialogical meanings surrounding our faith, life and death. Dreamwork, soulwork and grief work are dialogically and therefore poetically interconnected. To a certain extent the poetry of faith is always contrasted by the plaguing philosophical questions of nihilism. The best example in the bible of the testing of faith are the dialogues (in poetry and prose) found in the Book of Job. You evidently have not found peace of mind in your dialogue with your mother/parent. In your associations state that you are no longer working because you are taking care of your elderly parents. What will you feel when your mother dies? Have you prayed for her? Will you have said what you always wanted to say to her before she leaves without expecting anything in return? Or will she always remain a source of grief and despair? In your associations to the dream you use the word "wistfulness"(which is associated to the feeling of melancholia), which I'm sure you know means "sadly pensive longing".

Poetics of the Soul

In our desire and search for the light, the poetry of the Soul can be found in mystical poetry and dreams which provides a universal, transcendental vision of a humanity journeying towards its celestial goal (Heaven and the Holy). In this journey there are many obstacles. This is in essence the vision of Dante's Divine Comedy.

Dreams posted at the International Institute website that I believe are related to your "faith journey", include; 

It occurs to me that from a popular culture perspective Aretha Franklin's I Say a Little Prayer fits the description of classic soul. Other popular songs with a simular messages of faith is Celine Dion's That's The Way it is IS and Sting's If I Ever Loose My Faith In You.

Some literature of interest includes

  • David Adams Leeming Flights: Readings in Magic, Fantasy and Myth
  • Martin Buber I and Thou
  • Joan Borysenko A Woman's Journey to God
  • Judith Van Herik Freud on Femininity and Faith
  • Erich Fromm Psychoanalysis and Religion
  • William James The Varieties of Religious Experience
  • Rudolf Otto The Idea of the Holy
  • Harold Kushner When Bad Things Happen to Good People
  • Nancy Friday's My Mother, Myself: The Daughter's Search for Identity
  • Robert M. Pirsig's Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintainance
  • Erica Jong Fear of Flying

Hope these thoughts are of some help and insight.  


Mark H

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