I dream often. Nearly every morning I awake with memories of the dreams of that past night. One thing in particular has always interested me about my dreams, and that is that they are always lucid dreams. Decisions are always mine to make and there are never limits to what I can and cannot experience/accomplish in my dream (eg: some say that it is not possible for someone to die in their dream; that they will always awake from jumping off the cliff before they hit the ground. Not the case for me). Generally I find my dreams entertaining and nothing else but every now and then I am struck with a different thought or revelation for which I am very grateful (sidenote: just over a year ago I was writing a paper on Kierkegaard’s Works of Love and Augustine’s Confessions and was having a rather difficult time articulating a few of my arguments. I had spent all day working on the paper and during the night a dream followed in which I was faced with myself, one of me articulating Kierkegaard and the other Augustine. The conversation with myself, between these two figures was very fruitful and entirely clarified my argument for the paper!) But, I digress!
A few days ago I woke up in the early hours of the morning from a disconcerting dream. It went as follows: myself and a few others were selected to attend a wedding in a castle. Our roles in the wedding were important and distinct, though unidentified in the dream. It was very important that we met all that was expected of us (such as being present in the bridal party and engaging other wedding guests) while at the same time executing the difficult task assigned to us. The task was such: news had leaked to some authority figure who had assigned us this task, that someone or several people were planning on sabotaging the wedding and no less, the entire city (which consisted of the castle located on an island connected to the main land by one bridge). Our task was to find the people who were in the process of setting up the sabotage and arresting them. The information we were given was only that they were guests at the wedding and were missing. They had come, but had disappeared from the main crowds in order to set up their destructive plan. In sum, the task at hand was to find out who was missing, without names or faces or any resources for recognition except that they were “out of place” or “not where they were supposed to be,” that is, “missing.”
I woke up horrified by the urgency of the task at hand and by the realization that this is precisely what I have recently been facing heavily in my academic “career.” But, not all is lost to despair. As I continue my academic journey in search of that which is absent, I also keep in mind a favourite quote of John Howard Yoder: “It is normal for the newcomer to a debate which is already in process to accept the prevailing definitions of terms and choose one of the existing sides, whereas the wiser approach is to question the definitions.”