Wired to dream
These are the weeks when wild-eyed graduates around the country sit in stuffy gymnasiums, or under the great big sun, waiting for the announcement to switch the tassel on their skullcap from one side to the other. Some are surprised. Some are honored. A few are bored. All are hopelessly hot. The nifty, polyester rent-a-gowns were never meant to breathe. The odd-looking mortar board hats were never meant to be practical.
As graduates angle to make sense of what the commencement speaker really means behind his many admonitions, her oft-repeated platitudes, and those sometimes shallow jokes, there is one word they will not miss. It is the encouragement to DREAM! Some wisp of Robert Kennedy’s idea still manages to creep into nearly every commencement address. “You must have a dream and dare to follow it … Some look at the world and ask ‘Why?’ I dream of a world that isn’t yet and ask, ‘Why not?’”
I actually think graduates sit up when they hear this sort of idea. Today’s generation went straight from breast milk to computer keyboard. Along the way, they never heard their computer do justice, love kindness, or walk humbly with God. They certainly never witnessed their hard drive being able to dream. So yes, they are all ears when it comes to someone prompting them to imagine a world that hasn’t yet come entirely to be. The last person they want to become is that guy in the New Yorker cartoon, standing street-side as a vendor beneath his umbrella on his hotdog cart – no customers – with the sign on the front of the cart reading: All of my hopes and dreams, crushed, served on a bun … with mustard.
We should not be afraid of dreams. They are often the access point for God to make an inroad on our all-too-settled worlds. The Bible is full of dream encounters, including three major ones in a matter of seven verses (right after Jesus was born) – Luke 2:12-19.
Great dreams fund the imagination. They underwrite hope. They insist on a world that is often at odds with the one we see. What else made Martin Luther King Jr’s 1963 speech on the National Mall so timeless, but its expectant quality? Through his own holy intensity, King proposed that we be restless enough as a nation to imagine a better way of co-existing.
Whether or not you are on track to graduate this month, or have already been down that track, or have no interest in that track, do not forget to dream. You have been wired to dream. Dream of what it is that you really hope for in life – not the cheap wish or the crass want – but the full-throated hope that will make for a new world under your roof. Chances are better than good that God will keep getting involved to make it happen.
Peter W. Marty, senior pastor