For the last several days (weeks, months, years) I have been experiencing a deep and pervasive sadness. This is a sorrow that I have been unable to give a name to; neither have I been able to identify its source. Until now….. After giving myself the time and permission to sit with this sorrow, exploring its depths, its name was finally revealed:
The death of every dream.
As I sit at this place in my life, I am realizing the difficult truth – every dream I had once had for my life has died (ok, not every dream, only the ones born of ego). I am nowhere near where I thought I would be at 54 years old when I embarked upon this journey of self-fulfillment some 26 years ago. I am not a best-selling author. I’m not rich or famous. I have not been successful is reforming the Catholic Church or in starting a new way of being church. Neither am I speaking Jesus’ message of love before thousands. And I have definitely not met and am not living my once-dreamed of “happily ever after” with the elusive “Mr. Kelly.” Finally, not one of the “new age” or “new thought” promises of abundance and prosperity have found their fulfillment in my life.
As it turns out, I am not living a single one of the “American dreams.” Even more disappointing I’m not even living one of my own dreams. But then again, who is? How many people do you actually know who got everything they wished for? Not too many I suspect. In fact, I bet many who say they are living their dreams are lying, and if they are living their dreams, they are not likely happy for it.
I remember when my parents hit this stage of realizing many of their dreams have died. I watched two of my dearest friends face the death of their dreams when their perfectly healthy 21 year old son died. I have watched three other dear friends face a similar death with the loss of their beloved partners to brain cancer. And just this week, another friend’s dreams died with her son in a deadly car crash. Every day, thousands, if not millions or people face the death of their dreams. I am convinced that this is the path of the human experience. We dream. Our dreams die. And on the other side of the dream is the life that was meant for us all along.
The ancients call this alchemy. Christians call this redemption. Jesus called it “the kingdom of God.” Throughout scripture Jesus speaks on this topic of leaving our worldly dreams behind so that we might fulfill the calling of the Soul. Over and over he turns the table on the societal conditioning and ego-filled dreams of riches and fame (he had to confront these temptations himself) and invites us instead into humility.
Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, that a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven.
And again I say unto you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.
When his disciples heard it, they were exceedingly amazed, saying, Who then can be saved?
But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.
Then answered Peter and said unto him, Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have therefore?
And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive a hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life.
But many that are first shall be last; and the last shall be first. MT 19: 24-30
What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? 37 Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? Mark 8: 36
Then Jesus told his disciples, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit them if they gain the whole world but forfeit their life? MT 16: 24-26
Do not love the world or the things in the world. The love of the Father is not in those who love the world; for all that is in the world—the desire of the flesh, the desire of the eyes, the pride in riches—comes not from the Father but from the world. And the world and its desire are passing away, but those who do the will of God live forever. 1 John 2: 15-17
As Jesus continually pointed out to his disciples, the world’s ways are not God’s ways and the things of this world will not lead us to peace, contentment, or love. The kingdom of God that Jesus came to know within himself and then tried to show others how to attain, cannot be found through worldly gain or through what the world values as “success.” Instead, it can only be found by moving past worldly aspirations and then emptying ourselves of any and all attachments we might have for worldly things – riches, fame, success through doing, accomplishments, goals, achievement, possessions, positions of power or status, etc. etc. etc. Only when we are empty – completely empty – like Jesus was on the cross – are we able to find that Oneness that defies reason and understanding. Only in setting aside the things of our ego can our Soul step forward, leading us to the life we were always meant to live before taking on all these attachments.
For myself, this means another layer of ego-death. Acknowledging the death of my dreams. Sitting with the loss. Allowing myself to grieve. And then, walking on. As I step out of the ash left by my dying dreams, I will enter into a new world. No longer encumbered by the weight of these dreams, I will be free to receive the new life that is intended on the other side of this death. Kinda like enjoying my very own Easter.
What dreams have died for you?
How are you creating space for yourself to grieve the loss of those dreams?
How are you supporting yourself in being open to the new life that will come forth once you lay your dying dreams to rest?