Recently, a friend told me this story. He had gotten a call from a friend, but not one with whom he was particularly close. This friend confided that he had been drinking too much and was trying to get clean. He also relayed that he had had a dream that he was tempted to drink again and my friend’s wife appeared to him and declared that he didn’t need alcohol anymore. She even offered him a special medicinal tea to help him heal and to stay clean. He was so moved by the dream that he felt compelled to share; to have my friend witness what seemed like a turning point in his recovery.
I was so struck by the obvious notion that my friend’s wife had appeared to this man as an angel of healing. But it also occurred to me that she was only an aspect of himself that he had conjured in his sleep. That he was, in fact, his own angel, but only having taken my friend’s wife’s form.
So, why was the dream so impactful? This visitor had indeed inspired him in his effort, but had also provided a powerful sense that he was not alone with his troubles.
He was seemingly on his way to get clean on his own, but this visitation had offered him comfort and encouragement that he may not have been able to muster on his own in a conscious state. Additionally, this angel might be this man’s true essence emerging like an omniscient sage. And to further enhance the feeling of connection, he decided to share this experience with someone else. What a miraculous phenomenon? A remarkably powerful dream figure appears and offers companionship and guidance even if when that figure was imagined.
It makes one wonder about the piece of scripture in Matthew 18:20, “For where two or three gather in my name, there I am with them.” He had conjured his own meeting of spiritual souls and such warmth permeated.
I am reminded, too, of an endearing scene in the final pages of the Harry Potter book series. (SPOILER ALERT: Skip this paragraph if you wish to read the books or watch the movies.) If you know this scene, let me continue! Harry has just been struck down by his nemesis, Voldemort; a blow that is suppose to kill Harry once and for all. Instead, Harry enters into this dream-like, limbo stage where he meets up with a ghost-like image of his mentor, Professor Dumbledore. By this time in the story, Dumbledore, himself, has been killed suddenly and prematurely. In this culminating conversation where he reconnects with his beloved mentor, Harry is able to resolve the central, unanswered questions of his life. One senses Harry’s profound relief having had this cathartic exchange with Dumbledore and finally asks:
“Professor? Is this all real? Or is it just happening inside my head?”
Professor Dumbledore replies, “Of course it's happening inside your head, Harry. Why should that mean that it's not real?”
I often suggest to my health coach clients that they imagine the voice in their heads that beckons them to follow their health journey to take the form of a benevolent and loving figure. One that selflessly has their deepest well-being in mind. Often these voices are judgmental or we chafe against them in rebellion. If allowed to remain nasty in nature, these voices can sabotage our good efforts. But if we can conjure goodness, why not use such powerful imagining to provide our own encouragement and companionship. We know we have it in us!