A painted flower appeared in my dream the other night.

A strange dream filled with chaos and confusion. Out of nowhere a paintbrush appears. I pick it up. Effortlessly, I begin to paint a single pink flower. Roots from its stalk stretch around a huge stone and reach the ground. Simple. Colorful. Poignant. Comfort washes over me.

The feeling stays with me as I awaken in the morning.

Dreamtime is when we process what our fully awake self does not understand. I went to bed thinking about innocent lives lost. Children not protected. I was shaken by the sudden and shocking events of another mass shooting.

Before my dream, like many of us, I searched online to make sense of what had happened. I looked for prayers, poetry, or plans for legislation. I needed help to understand this terrible event and information on how to move forward.

Collective grief is what some of us may experience. According to Asma Rehman, LPC, a therapist at the Grief Recovery Center in Houston, Texas: “It happens when a community, society, village, or a nation all experience extreme change or loss. Anything that results in mass casualties can precipitate collective grief.”

Maybe you are immersed in your life.  You are aware of this event and other events without needing to deal with them in a specific way. Wherever you are, kindness is always the most important ingredient. I need to explore and understand what I am feeling.

Maybe it’s an occupational hazard.

Nighttime dreams might not occur to you as a useful tool. Dreams have always played a role in my self-exploration. Journaling what I dream is something I often do and have for decades. I trust dreams and their messages. At night, our thinking mind lets go and intuition can reach us. It is one way to move through tumultuous times. It is not the only way.

Some of us…
Meditate, journal or pray.
Go for walks or run.
Spend time in a forest or a garden.
Write or paint or create.
Find comfort in the company of others.
Become more politically engaged.

Today, I placed a piece of white paper on my art studio wall. I revisit my experience of painting my “dream flower.” I grab watercolors and begin to paint. My flower takes shape. The stone, a symbol of unyielding places, also emerges. Roots sprawl out over the stone as they search for sustenance. Her tender green stalk stands straight and strong. Of course, she is not an exact replica. That’s ok. Her message is what touches me.

She shows me what’s important to remember. “Reach for what gives you strength. Keep sending out your tiny tendrils of hope. Hard places will always appear.

Even in the worst of times life quickens.”


Author’s Note:
Paying attention to your dreams might be helpful. Want to explore them? Here’s a helpful article by Imi Lo in Psychology Today, Listen to Your Dreams.