A couple of months ago, H. and I finished book 5 in the Harry Potter series – “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.” Throughout the book the main character, Harry, is having a reoccurring dream. As the novel progresses the dream keeps expanding out bringing with it new images and compulsions for Harry. The dream begins with Harry seeing a long hallway leading to a door. Later his dream envisions a hand (whose hand we don’t know) reaching for the door. Finally, the hand grasps the doorknob only to find it locked. The problem is that Harry doesn’t know if this hallway leading to the locked door is a real place. He senses that it is somehow real, but he’s uncertain. Is it just a dream, all in his imagination? Or is there really a hallway leading to a locked door? He is determined to find out. With the help of his friends he finally discovers that the door and its corridor are actual places attached to a building full of mystery. With courage and a deep sense of longing on his side, Harry and his companions seek out the place discovering what lies behind this peculiar doorway.
Thousands of years ago another hero of sorts, the ancient prophet Isaiah, found himself dreaming. He laid out his dreams in 3 songs, the 3rd of which is the Feast of Epiphany’s first reading:
“Arise, shine; for your light has come,
and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.”
Harry Potter not only realized that the hallway attached to the locked door was real, he also discovered that the dream was not his own but someone else’s. His mind was a vessel of sorts where another’s dream could pass through. Likewise, the prophet Isaiah wrote down his 3 dreams only to discover that they were not his 3 dreams, but the 1 expansive dream of God. It was a vivid dream of light and illumination; light that was sparked with God’s relationship with the nation of Israel. The dream expanded out into human consciousness revealing that that spark of light which began in Israel would one day attract other nations to its source:
“Nations shall come to your light,
and kings to the brightness of your dawn.”
Some 700 years later the dream of Isaiah – which is really the dream of Israel – which is finally the dream of God – would be made manifest. In fact the word, “Epiphany,” which is the season the Church celebrates starting today, literally means “manifestation.” In Matthew’s Gospel we have the Magi representing those nations – all nations and kingdoms – coming to the brightness of God’s Light. Put plainly, the wise men find Jesus; thus revealing the manifestation of God’s dream for all people.
The dream is real. But is it a compelling dream? Are we to be like Harry Potter – not resting until we find out if the story is real? Epiphany is that season where we live into such questions. We might ask ourselves, “How are we participating in the dream of God?” “Where is God being made manifest in our lives?” Throughout the centuries Christians have discovered fingerprints of God’s manifestations. For example where truth, beauty, and goodness are discovered, God is not too far behind. Where there is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, and self-control there is that Divine Spark of Light. Epiphany compels us to discover and re-discover these spiritual truths. If you find joy in the faces of your children and grandchildren the joy you feel comes from that spark. In those moments take a minute acknowledging the source of that joy and simply pray, “Thank you.” If you lose your patience, but see that your spouse has it for you take a moment to be grateful for their example. Like guiding stars these spiritual manifestations are everywhere. The season of Epiphany compels us to follow them within the mundane as well as the profane moments of our lives. Isn’t it beautiful to know that the dream of God can also be our dream? Epiphany wakes us from our sleep to discover the Dream. Is. Real.