Sunday, November 06, 2016

Dreamed In...

Yesterday morning I was dibbing into a book “Restoring the Woven Cord: Strands of Celtic Christianity for the Church Today” by Michael Mitton.  It has a great chapter on creativity and highlights the life of Caedmon, “the earliest English poet whose name is known”.

He worked in a monastery in Whitby, which wasn’t called Whitby at the time, tending animals. At the end of the day when the dinner was done and everything was washed up and put away, the community dug out the music and everyone was required to do their party piece to entertain. Caedmon wasn’t a singer, or a poet or a storyteller, and always left the room.

One night he had a dream. Someone, presumably Jesus, stood before him and told him to sing a song. Caedmon confessed he couldn’t sing, but the man insisted and told him to sing something about God and His creation. Caedmon sang a beautiful song, and he woke up the next day remembering all the words and the melody.

In those days, dreams were taken seriously. He went to the abbess and told her about the dream and she called a meeting of the high-ups in the monastery. They needed to know that it was a genuine dream and not just a side effect of too much cheese. They agreed it was genuine and called on Caedmon to become a proper monk and put the Bible to music. And he did that.

I’d read the chapter because later on in the morning I was meeting with the Breathe writers, a small creative writing group. Our usual venue, the Breathe Chapel just off Grant Street, wasn’t available. We did think about just cancelling – some of the usual crew were not going to be there. I didn’t want to cancel. Marking off time to write – yes, I could do it by myself anyway, and as it was we didn’t actually write – I just like being with like-minded people. We met out near Moniack, a lovely converted barn, surrounded by fields and trees at the end of their autumn days.

In among the conversation we talked about what got us into writing in the first place. One of the women present talked about being called in a dream – much like Caedmon. She had been writing throughout school but got caught up in the busy stuff of family. She was a part of a church that had been re-discovering art and poetry and music as part of a church worship meeting. There wasn’t the man, in the dream, standing in front of her telling her to speak a poem, but there was a directing towards writing and sharing poetry in church. She talked about a painting, and dreaming of being in the painting and writing a poem the next day. She is well in there, now, sharing poems, prophetic, forceful poems at various events and planning a book of photographs and poems.

I wasn’t dreamed into poetry. I was standing in front of a desk about the sign away my Wednesday evenings for the next twelve weeks learning how to counsel people. I thought it might be a useful thing to be able to do in a church setting. On the table next to the counselling register was one for Creative Writing. My heart, my spirit, God, nothing to do with any dream, tugged me to the Creative Writing register. I had this thing in my head that I was being selfish – what good would creative writing do in a church setting? But I couldn’t stop myself. The first meeting, the first encounter of pencil on paper, I was home. I was in the so-right place and I discovered a gift. The poetry part of it came later.

So, I read all about Caedmon – dreamed into poetry and song-writing. I met a woman also where dreams also played a part in her poetry calling. If you know me you can take a stab at what comes next. Yes, the little voice, possibly the enemy, or my likely all me – “Father, why wasn’t I dreamed in too?” – as if not being dreamed in was a spiritual handicap in some way.

“Did you need to be?” came the answer, “The two registers next to one another on the desk.  Not coincidence but plan - you followed the call.”

It matters not the manner of how God calls you to Himself or the job He has designed for you. What matters is that you answer.

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