Who doesn’t remember singing a “round” in school? If you started school way back when I did, you no doubt know the old one that goes:
"Row, row, row your boat
Gently down the stream.
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily,
Life is but a dream."
Aside from the catchy tune and the fun of singing the round, the words may be truer than any of us know. Dreams are mortal. In our dreams we rarely think we’re dreaming. Yet about one-third of our 24 day and night most of us are asleep and that’s when we dream.
I wonder if the person who wrote this little ditty glimpsed a solemn fact? Is life itself merely a dream? If so, I can’t help wondering when and how we’ll wake up. David, the shepherd boy who grew up to be king of Israel, must have glimpsed this idea when he wrote and sang, “I shall be satisfied when I awake in Thy likeness.”
As pleasant as dreams sometimes are, they never give us total satisfaction. A thing can’t be satisfying when it ends. Only when, and if, we awake to a reality of life, a totally good life without beginning or end, can we be truly satisfied. If such a life exists, then it must be that it will never end and never began. Life, that real life, must be whole, perfect, satisfying and eternal. Then what must this earthly thing we call life be? A dream?
At this stage of my life I occasionally think of the ending. What will it be like? Like a dream that ends, an awakening to another more real sense of life? Many believe that death is the waking up time. In death it is supposed that we are no longer fooled into believing the dream. And if, as we hope, this awakening brings us back to a better, more harmonious sense of life, a permanent one, then death must be something to welcome. But what if it turns out to be just another dream? It could then be better or worse than the one we entertain now.
Can’t you see how such reasoning is like a round we sing? Over and over and over. This morning I’m thinking, as I’ve often thought before, that I’d like this round of dreams to end. I’m thinking, too, that it is not enough to wish for a better dream-sense of life. I want the real thing. And I believe that the real, and only life there is, is the divine Life we call God. Therefore, to know God better is to lay claim to a better sense of Life. Life without beginning or end.
Of all the things I like here in this dream none can equal this desire for not just a better life but the one divine Life, the only real Life. Why? Because that Life includes all good. It has no room, not the tiniest space, for evil or error. It is totally trustworthy, satisfying, wonderful and fun. It must be more fun than imagination can dream up. Glimpsing this divine Life, my human life, the dream I’m in, has to reflect more of the totally good Life that is God.
We so-called senior citizens should not despair if the dream we’re in gets hazy, ceases to satisfy, or causes us to wish for an end. As with our night dreams, this temporal sense of life we’ve been educated to believe is real, will end. Nights will become shorter until “there is no night there,” as the Bible predicts.
This time of the mortal dream is not bringing us closer to death but to Life divine. That, I believe, is what my human experience has been and continues to be, - a trip to Understanding. So, we should not be struggling to enhance our dream but rather to wake up. Here’s another song I like. It is not sung as a round but when I start singing it it’s hard to quit:
“When the red, red robin comes bob, bob, bobbin’ along, along,
There’ll be no more sobbin’ when he starts throbbin’ his old sweet song.
‘Wake up! wake up, you sleepy head!
Get up, get up, get out of bed!
Cheer up, cheer up, the sun is red.
Live, love, laugh and be happy!”
Be they good or bad, I suppose dreams have some purpose. Maybe to help us learn how to get out of them? Like a chick, I’ll keep pecking at my shell until I make it. Now, that’s something to look forward to and be glad about!