The Neurons of Heaven

Your Loved One is Okay

Image by Shapiro

Do people tell you about their dreams? I mean do they tell you the dreams people have when they are asleep. Do people tell trust you with dreams? When you have the privilege of someone describe their dreams to you, a divine landscape develops between the two of you.

She is twenty-five years. She tells you this dream.

She says, “I woke up with this morning. A dream was on my mind. I wrote it down as if I would go back and read it sometime. Yeah right! I’m in a small boat in the middle of the ocean. It is the daytime. The sun feels hot. I feel the heat even in my dream. A small bird lands on my boat. I think this will be nice. I have a friend. Then a large white bird comes and sweeps that little bird right off the boat. That is when I wake up.”

Researchers claim that we all dream three to six times every night.

This is a middle-aged person; a son of a farmer. His father died last week, suddenly, in a car accident. He looks at you with a yearning expression (eyes not quite all the way open, halfway open from a deep chasm inside).

He says, “I know my father is okay. He came to me in a dream last night. The same thing happened when my grandmother died. I dreamed of her. She gave me a bowl of bean soup. She smiled. I woke up warm. I was young, I don’t remember exactly how old.”

He continues, “In the dream, my father sits in the green combine. He waves his hand. He wants me to join him. I run. I leap onto his lap. I look out on the field. It isn’t one of his fields. Something white that I can’t identify is growing. My father lifts me and places me in the seat beside him. I want the dream to last longer. It doesn’t yet at least I know my Dad is okay.”

We have lots of sleeping dreams as distinguished from our waking dreams about the hope and dreams we have for our life (I’d like to live by the beach someday). The night dreams are fleeting. Dreams don’t last longer than twenty minutes and can be as short as five minutes. Dreams don’t last very long also in the sense that by the time we are awake, we will have forgotten about 95 percent of our dream.

People who study such things state that dreams occur during the deepest part of sleep. This deep time of sleep is called the rapid eye movement phase or REM (not the band). During this phase we breathe faster. Blood pressure rises. Our muscles become something like paralyzed. We dream.

There is a phenomenon called dream-lag. Dream-lag is when you dream about experiences and people you have encountered recently, recently means in the last week or so. With dream-lag, there is a modest lag of time between an event and your dream of the event.

In an earlier article, I describe the death of my father at the age of 37 from a heart attack. Our family was on vacation, resulting, of course, in a lifetime phobia of vacations. The damn things never go right. To quote James Taylor, Someone’s always missing and something’s not quite right.”

It has been less than a week since my father died. I am six years old. I can’t sleep. I move my pillow to the foot of the bed. So, now I’m lying opposite from where I usually sleep. I have flipped the pillow over and this side of the pillow is cool. Now, I’m able to sleep.

This you should know. My Dad drove a Morris Minor. This is a Volkswagen Bug looking car made in Oxford, England. I remember him talking with great affection about this automobile. Maybe he liked having a car no one else in Indiana drove. Maybe he just liked the looks (was it an obscure shade of green?) and how it felt to drive. After his death, Mom says she is going to try to sell the car. I hope she doesn’t.

In my sleep, turned around in my bed, I dream.

We are in the driveway of the house where we live. I’m with three other people. I don’t know who they are, but they evoke neither closeness or fear. We each stand at one of the four sides of the car. Then, we start to rock the car back and forth. The car rises to the left and then springs to the right, We are trying to tip the car over on its side. We rock the car back and forth (how many times are we going to try?). We almost tip it over. We come so close. But each time the car right itself right side up, stable and still.

I wake from the wrong side of the bed. I am only six years old but I wonder at that very moment what the dream is about. Why were we trying to tip the car? Why did someone think I’d be anywhere useful in trying to yank the car to its side. Who were the other three people?

Through the years people have told tell me (have they told you too?) how they receive comfort of dreaming about a deceased person (a mother, a father, a best friend, on a few occasions a child); they almost all interpret the dream as a sign that their loved one is safe with God or in heaven. Like the farmer who dreamed of his dad in the combine, the analysis is that now they know the person is okay.

The neurons of heaven are at work.

My father didn’t come to me in a dream. He didn’t invite me to sit next to him or sail with him to a place in the ocean where the sun shines so brightly you feel like you are at the edge between heaven and earth. No, my father didn’t come to reassure me in a love-laced sleep dream. It was his car that did.

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Spirituality and Emotional Resilence

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Tim Shapiro

Tim Shapiro

I am an ordained minister exploring the crossroads of religion, spirituality, mental health, and brain science. I can be reached at timshapiro@outlook.com.

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