One sunny morning I was quarreling with my wife Angela. Can’t remember who or what started it. The kids were off to school and I’d just made a breakfast of tea, toast, marmalade and mature cheddar cheese. Angela likes tea in the morning. Hot tea, no milk, no sugar. Her favourite marmalade, Fruitfield’s Old Time Irish, reminds her of happy days on the childhood farm and anything that rings a joy bell is fine with me.
I take care with her breakfast. My goal is to bring piping hot tea with tastefully diagonally sliced golden brown toast. Wholehearted toast with just the right balance of external crunch and internal softness served on a warm blue china plate with two loving little swallows flying near the edge. The butter is softened and the marmalade lid loosened. The mature cheddar is sliced in long thin slices the way Angela likes it. Angela enjoys me bringing her toast buttered and marmaladed with cheese on the side if she’s having it in bed. At the table she prefers to butter and marmalade herself.
My reward comes when Angela says, Thanks Love, as she empowered by my morning kindness starts to hold court with opinions as hot and piping as her tea and wisdom as strong and sharp as mature cheddar cheese.
I can’t remember what we were arguing about but I was genuinely stunned when she said, And you aren’t even doing what God told you to do!
Angela often says, You don’t listen to me!
When she says this what I hear is, You’re not doing what I’m telling you to do. In my mind listening to Angela and doing what she tells me to do are two different things.
I said, What the hell are you talking about?
She said, God told you to go to Ethiopia and you never did!
God never told me to go to Ethiopia.
She said, This time last year! For a whole year you’ve been doing absolutely nothing about it. Just being stubborn and disobedient. You don’t listen to me. You don’t listen to God.
I could see where this was going. I said, Angela, look at me!
When I had her eyes I said, Angela, God has never spoken to me about Ethiopia.
Oh yes he has!
She rose from the table, left the room and came back with her previous year’s diary in her hand. She slapped it down in front of me.
She pointed to an entry. Read that, she said.
At the top of the page she’d written, Last night Brendan dreamed he and Lionel went to minister in Ethiopia.
This was news to me yet somewhere in my spirit I heard an echo of something forgotten.
I said, Why didn’t you show me this sooner?
She said, You should write your own dreams down!
A dream interpreter when teaching about dreams will usually give a number of suggestions about how to catch and record your dreams. They’ll warn, Dreams like disappearing ink can quickly fade. They’ll say obvious things like, Keep a pen and paper beside your bed. Some even suggest one of those pens with a flashlight on the end so as not to awaken your spouse. Perhaps Joseph and Isaiah and Pilate’s wife used these. Other ideas include keeping digital recorders, IPhones with special apps, etc. on the bedside table. Some even suggest saying certain prayers before going to sleep in order to help God out.
I’ve tried all sorts of things over the years but nowadays my preferred method is to gently jab Angela in her ribs with my left elbow and say, Angela, I’ve just had a dream. It’s important. Please write it down. I then mumble my wonderful night visions into the darkness. This technique barely interrupts my sleep pattern. I honestly don’t even mind if Angela switches on her bedside lamp if her flashlight pen has run out of power.
There are of course downsides to my preferred method of dream recall. And I was facing one right now. Stalling for time I reached over and firmly replaced the lid on the Old Time Irish.
I said, Thank you for bringing this to my attention. What would I do without you?
She said, You need to be responsible for your own dreams.
I said, Two are better than one! What use would a poor Lurgan boy ever be on his own?
A smile flickered. She said, Don’t start a pity party!
I said, Let me clear these breakfast things away. I need to do some admin before we head off to The Daily Grind for lunch. Harold R Eberle claims Satan stops ministers from moving in their anointing by keeping them constantly preoccupied with finances and administration. I think he’s right.
The flicker of a smile returned with a friend and the pair of them played like March hares around the corners of Angela’s face.
She said, Did you just make that up?
What about Harold E Eberle?
No the bit about taking me for lunch.
Okay, she said. It’s a good idea nevertheless and we can go over to Newcastle afterwards for a walk on the prom. Please get me another piece of toast and two slices of cheese. And leave the dishes until we’ve finished talking. There are other things I want to discuss. But first let’s do our daily bible reading and prayer.
Angela said, Please screw this marmalade lid off. It’s on far too tight for me.
Sometimes I wonder if it might not be be easier to write down my own dreams.
Afterwards I reread the dream, It said, Last night Brendan dreamed he and Lionel went to minister in Ethiopia.
Simple dream. Simple interpretation. Simple application. Go with Lionel to Ethiopia and minister!
I emailed Lionel:
Around this time last year I dreamed you and I went to minister in Ethiopia.
What do you think?