Kathy wrote to me just before Easter about what happened when she started practicing the exercises for meeting a spiritual guide in my book Dreamgates. Lying back in bed, fully conscious of her intention, she had the following experience:
I was able to visualize a stone stairway going up. My visualizations are often hazy, but I was able to see these stairs clearly. When I got to the top of the stairway, I was startled to see a man suddenly appear before me. He was Jesus Christ! I was so surprised that I almost jumped right out of bed.
It was a little unnerving and for a second I wondered what in the world I was messing with. Jesus approached me, and I knew without a doubt that it was really Him. He reached out and embraced me and held me for the longest time. He didn’t speak to me at all. He just held me the entire time. I was so overwhelmed with the feeling of love and light coming from Him that it moved me to tears. I didn’t want it to end. What a great experience for my first time trying this!
After this encounter, Kathy started reviewing in her mind a series of night dreams in which a benign and loving – and hitherto anonymous – male figure had appeared to her.
I began to think about the dreams where a mysterious man comes to me. He never speaks and I never see his face, but I know he’s smiling. He holds me through the night and I get that overwhelming feeling of love and light that I received in my vision of Jesus. I now wonder if I’ve been dreaming about Jesus all these years.
Kathy had questions for me. “I would love to cultivate a relationship with Jesus. I think he may be my personal teacher. I can never predict when I’m going to dream about him. Are there any exercises or techniques that you recommend for this?”
Here is part of my response: “It is quite wonderful to have a personal vision of Jesus and to know him as a personal guide. How do you live and work with that? Don’t be afraid to call on his name, and his help, when you truly need it. This is the right time of year to reflect on all that the Christ story means.
“The mysterious figure sounds like a loving presence. I would try to meet him in conscious dreaming or meditation and have a conversation, which might begin by asking him to identify himself and show me his face.
“And now you have found your spiritual guide at the top of the stone steps, remember you can walk those steps again. A dream or vision is also a place, and if we have been there once, we can go there again.”
Our spiritual guides appear to us in the forms we are able to perceive. A woman, facing a difficult decision of whether to let go of a secure but boring job and apply for a more demanding and exciting job was hesitating out of fear. She was on the verge of losing the opportunity. Then she dreamed she was standing on a diving board, frozen in fear, which dramatized her situation in waking life. In the dream, Jesus walked up behind her, took her by the hand and they dove from the high board together. They plunged deep into the waters and came up laughing. She had always loved water sports and was a competitive diver in college. She took the dream to mean that Jesus was with her and she had nothing to fear, she would know what to do because she had good skills and she might even have fun! She got that job and had no regrets.
My friend Carol, a very experienced and sensitive spiritual counselor, works with many people who report personal encounters with Jesus. She advises them that “we can make ourselves available through dream incubation, asking for the guide to appear. We can call on the name. We can put ourselves inside a particular Gospel scene through active imagination. Read it a couple of times and then let go….dream your way into it and let it unfold. You can be at the well with Jesus, at the pool with Jesus, at the foot of the cross with Jesus, in the garden with Jesus, wherever your imagination takes you, in wide-awake dreaming.”