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To sleep, perchance to dream

By Melissa Young

I’ve been hired to play the newly installed carillon bells at our church building.

I participated in a focus group and received a million dollars as a gratuity.

I am running up some stairs to get to a class and run into an estranged family member.

I take my lawn clippings to the green waste yard, which has turned into a frozen tundra by the time I arrive, and then rollerblade home in the cold.

I’m sleeping in a room I’ve never seen before, with all white linens, when a terrific storm blows in and takes off one of the window screens. I chase it, the wind and rain whipping my face, down a grassy hill.

Those are just a few of the dreams I’ve had this month.

I first read Barbara Bishop’s “Dreams as Gifts of the Spirit” (from the summer issue that will be posted online soon!) when it was submitted for editing. Her ideas impressed me, and I decided to start keeping a dream journal.

Dreams are slippery things. Sometimes they can be bizarre and embarrassing, but I’ve also had beautiful, comforting dreams that have wrapped around me like a favorite blanket. Many times I wake up with just a whisper of memory remaining. Trying to recall any concrete images is like grasping at smoke. Only a few dreams leave any lasting impression, but I’m intrigued with trying to remember and record.

I’ve never felt as though the Spirit was speaking to me through dreams, though I’ve known other people who have had dreams of divine origin. I wonder if I’ve not felt the Spirit through my dreams because I’ve not been listening.

So that’s what I’m doing now–listening. I’m not delving deep into dream symbolism or trying to understand what these scraps of my subconcious may mean. For now, I’m just writing it down and waiting to see if there’s a possibility that God will speak to me while I’m sleeping.


About Melissa Young

(Emerita) is a native of Utah and lives in Cache Valley, Utah, with her husband and three of her four children in their emptying nest. She has an MA in TESOL from Brigham Young University and currently volunteers with the English Learning Center.

20 thoughts on “To sleep, perchance to dream”

  1. I dreamed that I "said things" to a family member. When I woke up, I felt regret.

    I am glad it was only a dream. Now I know I will not say those things. Whether it was an actual warning, or simply worked as one, I don't know.

    Thanks for bringing up this interesting and timely topic.

  2. I loved Sister Bishop's article. I too have been inspired to look towards my dreams for more inspiration. My husband and I have both had dreams that were similar in topic at around the same time, and we have prepared for things which are still unseen to us, but which we feel the Lord is preparing us for the eventuality of. (Does that make sense?)

  3. I have been blessed with several dreams that were gifts from the spirit. From saying goodbye to a deceased loved one to finding out the miracle baby I was carrying was a girl and being given her name; each time I have a dream that is a gift of the spirit there is no doubt in my mind. Other times my dreams are tools the adversary uses to bring contention and fear into my heart. It has always been this way for me. I try to remember to pray before I sleep that my mind will be guarded and my dreams will be safe. I can usually tell when I'm closer to the spirit because my dreams are peaceful and the opposite when I'm struggling a little. It's important for me to remember, and perhaps for others too, that some dreams are useful tools, while others… are JUST DREAMS.

  4. I also loved the article as well, because dreams are definitely one of my gifts of the Spirit. When I was younger it sometimes actually freaked me out a little and I wondered if something was wrong with me. But then when I got my patriarchal blessing it specifically talked about dreams and some other things and I felt much better.

    That being said, many of my dreams are the usual, non-spiritual kind. I am still learning how to discern different types of communication. Just like the thoughts and voices that pass through our minds during the day–some are whisperings of the Spirit and some are not.

  5. I often have dreams that are "predictions" for lack of a better word. Often conversations etc, they will happen and then think – i remember dreaming this. Occasionally situations – in our family we call it "the sight" – my husband does not believe at all. We have known when women are pregnant etc
    saying all that usually i think i dream about what is on my mind – like remembering misplaced articles – or problems i am trying to solve –
    and other times….
    there are incredible times when i think it can only be Spirit – when i have the incredible safe loved feeling, that carries me thru the day.

  6. I dreamed that I found a mummified child on a cannibal island and brought him back to life. He was a young child and I loved him dearly, but he kept trying to eat me. (He was, after all, a cannibal.) No matter how loudly I screamed, no one seemed to notice or care that I was being eaten alive by this child to whom I had given life.

    Of course, the meaning of this dream was fairly obvious considering that I'm the mother of two young boys and that I'd just quit my job in order to focus on becoming a more adept homemaker.

    The books sounds interesting. I'll have to read it.

  7. I haven't had any ultra spirutal dreams, but I do sometimes have dreams that give me insights into what I'm struggling with. Sometimes, if I am having a hard time figuring something out, I will pray for a dream that helps me understand better (and sometimes it happens).

    Dream journals are a wonderful tool!

  8. I was reading a couple of years ago in "Rough Stone Rolling" or maybe it was "The History of Joseph Smith, by His Mother" (can't remember which) about dreams that Joseph Smith Sr. had that he felt were prophetic and indicative of things to come within his family. The description of those dreams really struck a chord within me. As the BIG things came to pass within his family the dreams provided confirmation, comfort and understanding. When his son Joseph Smith Jr. was called to the work I believe they were part of the ground work that helped Joseph Smith Sr. believe.

    I have had dreams of comfort, dreams of reproof, dreams preparing me for loss, dreams of instruction, dreams that have expanded my understanding. Sometimes I have had just plain dreams. Sometimes I have had terrifying dreams. The scary ones come in bunches. During these times I pray for dreams that are sweet.

    When I have a dream that leaves an impression, I pray that I might given understanding and shown the meaning and interpretation if any is to be had from it.

    Once when I was having a particularly difficult time abiding, trying to decide weather to proceed by myself to the temple (my husband is not a member of the Church) I had the following dream.

    I was in a van in our driveway waiting with my children, very anxiously waiting to go somewhere important. I was very impatient. My husband would not come out of the house. I waited and waited. Finally it occurred to me that we couldn't go where we needed to with out him and I needed to go back inside and help him find the keys. It occurred to me he couldn't find the keys by himself and if I wanted to go anywhere. I needed to go back inside and help him find the keys.

    Figuratively I'm still back inside helping him look. I thought it would be a quick search and we would soon be on our way. Here I am a decade later still looking, still searching. Sometimes I weary of it. Part of me desperately wants further instruction and a release from this obligation but part of me knows that until the Lord says so this is where I am supposed to be.

    I think dreams can be all kinds of things. I believe sometimes they can be sacred communication.

  9. I have vivid dreams. Dreams that make me wake up and then forcefully poke my husband to tell him all about it. They aren't as interesting, scary or lovely to him as they are to me.

    I love dreams. I think dreams are where we let go… try new thoughts, ideas, allow things that bother us to bubble up… or bring us ecstasy. I am a fan of sleeping whilst dreaming. 😉

  10. Have you tried to examine the symbolism in your dreams? The symbolism often IS the meaning, and especially for those who are skilled at reading symbolism, it is a major way that Heavenly Father speaks through dreams. Further, Heavenly Father teaches through symbols that have special meaning to the individual who receives the dream, so while others might try to interpret, only you can know for sure whether an interpretation truly fits.

    May I try my hand at interpreting? (It may be that you already know the interpretation, and if you do, please forgive me for bouncing in and giving my view.)

    “I’ve been hired to play the newly installed carillon bells at our church building.”

    I’ve been a carillon player at BYU and that instrument isn’t just for those inside the church. It is also for the benefit of the public in a wide radius. Is there some music that Heavenly Father wants you to share with people?

    “I participated in a focus group and received a million dollars as a gratuity.”

    This sounds like an opinion-giving activity where you are benefitted far more than the effort you put in. Possibly blogging? The million dollars could represent “support”, or emotional support.

    “I am running up some stairs to get to a class and run into an estranged family member.”

    This sounds like diligent pursuit of learning (whether temporal or spiritual I can’t say) will bring you into contact with family you thought you lost or family you never knew you had. Do you have an estranged family member? Have you been getting any spiritual nudges to study something in particular?

    “I take my lawn clippings to the green waste yard, which has turned into a frozen tundra by the time I arrive, and then rollerblade home in the cold.

    “I’m sleeping in a room I’ve never seen before, with all white linens, when a terrific storm blows in and takes off one of the window screens. I chase it, the wind and rain whipping my face, down a grassy hill.”

    These two dreams seem to both indicate an extremely negative change in the surrounding climate (emotionally/temporally/financially/spiritually).

    I have a question about the first dream: Did the green waste yard accept the lawn clippings or was it too late? Perhaps the grass clippings symbolize small lessons of growth that you’ve gathered up. It sounds like some place (I hope not Sugullah) may become too cold to receive them. In any events, it seems significant that you rollerbladed home (a fun activity that is faster than walking). Even in the negative change, you manage to have some fun.

    As for the dream with the storm, my question is this– was the window screen all there was in the window, or was there glass there too? Is there any particular spiritual protections you have for your home that might get carried away if there was a sudden spiritual assault upon your family? What windows does your family have into the world? (TV? Music? Internet?) What screens or filters are in place? Is there anything that needs to be strengthened?

    Again, forgive me if I'm waaaaaaaaaaay off base.

  11. Interesting interpretations, Michaela–thank you.

    I confess that I'm not very skilled at reading symbolism and have actually resisted learning about it because I'm afraid I would start looking for meanings far beyond what is actually intended (I tend to get carried away like that). But even your brief descriptions show how much value there can be in trying to read the underlying messages. As you said, I also believe that I'm the only one who can truly say what the symbolism means, which is an additional gift of the Spirit.

    In the post, I gave only small snips of my dreams. There is additional information that would probably help in the interpretation. For example, the evening before the carillon dream, we had attended a carillon concert at the Y. I took organ lessons from Dr. Cook eons ago, and it was fun to see him play again. I spent some time that night thinking about things I had done in the past. I'm guessing the dream was a way for my mind to try and incorporate some of my past experiences into something I could use now.

    And I've never been on rollerblades in my life, but it was so much fun in the dream I think I should take it up.

  12. rollerblading is awesome…unless you're in the hills. hills+rollerblading=scary bad! i miss blading every day…did that for years with my girlfriends after work before i had kids.

    i've had one dream in my life that felt, to me, like it was significant, in which i was invited to have a phone call on a special phone that reached through to the spirit world, to talk with a member of my bishopric who had recently died of cancer and whom i had wished i could talk to about something but it was too late. even though he'd been an old man the whole time i'd known him, his voice on our call was the voice he'd had as a younger man in his prime, which caught me off guard. it was a very comforting for me to talk to him in my dream, as i was truly wrestling with something that i felt like he was the only person i knew whose insight i trusted. i wish i had more dreams like that one!

    i like the thoughts you've shared Melissa. ♥

  13. There's a great book called "Emotional Freedom" by Judith Orloff that talks about dreams and keeping a dream journal. She says to pay attention to the pervading feeling of the dream–fear, anger, shame, peace, etc. The feeling behind the dream may apply to emotions you're currently experiencing.

    Judith breaks what she calls "Liberating dreams" up into 3 groups:"Psychological Dreams" (dreams about fears,insecurities or anxieties; or dreams affirming strengths or emotional achievements), "Predictive Dreams" or "Guidance Dreams". I started keeping a dream journal and have been amazed at what my subconscious tackles each night. It's really interesting.

  14. Interesting, Michaela, I actually was a carilloneur at BYU for three years during grad school. There aren't many of us out there who have had that opportunity. Melissa, I graduated in organ performance and Dr. Cook was my teacher.

    About dreams, I don't really have spiritual dreams either, though I have often wished I did. But for years I had (and still occasionally have) a recurring dream. I would usually dream that I was back in school. It was the end of the semester, and I would realize that I had a class I had not attended since the beginning of the semester and I was not prepared for the final. Or, a common variation on this was where I would dream that I was supposed to play a recital in a few days which I had forgotten all about and had not practiced for. I have also had dreams where I am suddenly back in graduate school in music. I know these dreams have a lot of meaning as I have had had many issues over the years with regrets about my lack-of career and sadness over not being where I thought I would be. In the past few years I have done a lot more with my music, though I am still a SAHM, and the dreams don't happen as often, I think because I am more at peace with my life.

  15. I've had strange and vivid dreams just this past week! I've been upset because it means I'm not sleeping as well, but a dream journal is a great idea. Maybe I should open up just a little to allow some messages through. Thanks for the thoughts.

  16. Eljee, I have that exact same dream—the one where you realize there's a class you're registered for and you haven't been going to it all semester. In my case, the horror isn't that I'm not prepared for the final (although that's part of it), but it's that I can't possibly make up all the work I've missed, so I know I will fail the class. Recently I've had a variation of that dream: I'm starring in a play, and it's time to go on stage, and I realize that I haven't memorized any of my lines—haven't even looked at the script. So I go onstage and am just making up dialogue, and I know it's all wrong, but it's the best I can do. Perhaps this one more directly relates to my recent feelings about my mothering skills….

  17. I thought it was a great article in Segullah, and really made me think. I keep meaning to put a notepad by my bed for dreamkeeping, but so far I forget!

    I have recurring dreams that have the same location from real life, but with twists and additions which is how I know I'm dreaming. Whenever I'm worried about something, I end up in that dreamscape.

    I've had a couple of spiritual dreams, one giving comfort when I absolutely needed it. The others dealt with the same topic and for all of them I can remember the feeling so clearly and strongly I can't doubt it was something special.

    Thank you Segullah for being such an open and welcoming forum for all areas of life, publication and discussion!

  18. I've only had two dreams that I felt were truly inspired (way back before I was married). They both strengthened my testimony and taught me important lessons I needed to learn.

    In one dream there was a set of stairs that I understood represented my climb toward heaven. The stairs were deep and easy to climb at first, then became increasingly smaller until they were just an inch deep toward the top. At that point it was necessary for me to reach up and receive help to get into heaven. Reaching down to help me was someone who represented my husband. At the time I needed to know I couldn't make it on my own.

    The other dream helped prepare me for my mission.

    I like the suggestions of keeping a dream journal and also asking for the Spirit.

    Thanks for this post and discussion.

  19. Shortly after my Mom died (about 3 years ago now) I began having almost nightly dreams in which I could see her- her lips were moving- but I could not hear what she was trying to say. I would wake up in a desperate state of panic. It got to the point where I was afraid to go to sleep because I would see her again but never hear her. I felt every day an indescribable sense of longing and loss knowing that I had not appreciated the last time I heard her voice and now I would be tormented with this terrible silence. I remember listening to all of my voice mail messages obsessively in the days following her passing hoping that I had missed something and her voice would be there somewhere to quench my thirsty heart. Nothing.

    About six months later I found myself in a dream very similar to these horrible nightmares but something was different. I was at church, the one I grew up in. I walked into the relief society room and there was my mother, my angel, as vibrant and whole as she ever was. She was surrounded by all the strong women I remembered from those precious days of my youth, all listening attentively to whomever was speaking. My mother beckoned to me. I approached her and leaned over her shoulder and to my rapture I could feel her warmth. I felt- VERY vividly her thick course hair on my neck, her warm breath, the tiny hairs on her arm as she reached up and stroked my cheek. Ahhh…blessed contact, real and comforting. And she spoke to me "Don't forget I love you Sweetheart. Please go find your Dad, he's out there and he needs someone." I knew exactly what she meant even before I woke. It was all I needed. How poignant this was for me to realize that in the gospel we are there together. And, my selfish desire to have her on this earth again was keeping me from reaching out to those who were still very much in need of my attention.

    The Lord comforts and guides us in innumerable ways, if we are but willing to listen.

  20. My experience is that yes, most dreams are the ordinary, your-subconscious-letting-you-know-what's-on-your-mind variety. I often have to call my sister to help me interpret these, because the interpretation is so obvious that I miss it. Maybe I'm a little bit Jewish that way– I'm always looking for a deeper meaning, but the surface meaning IS the deeper meaning, normally.

    I have also had dreams that frightened me so badly that almost nothing in real life scares me at all. Period. Part of my motivation for staying close to the Lord is so that these do not come back– it has been about seven years now, but the fear still feels fresh.

    The last kind is the loveliest; the prophetic ones. The Lord has used these to teach me gospel principles and, very occasionally, to give me a heads-up about things coming up in my life. I wouldn't ever ask for one– I don't think I would– because, would you ask for an angel to come visit you? But they are glorious. I call these "True Dreams," and they have a quality every bit as distinct as those awful ones I used to have as a child. I have never had to call on someone else to interpret these, I assume because the Lord is careful to use symbolism which is easy for me to understand.

    (Yes, it is weird how my subconscious can't seem to get that trick down.)

    Thank you for posting on this. I have been praying lately to be able to remember my dreams because I felt like it might help me sort out some difficulties I'm working through right now. Called my sister just today, in fact, to see if she could help me sort through the slush. It's nice to feel like I'm in good company.


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