I spent last weekend at Ashburnham Place on retreat as part of my training towards Licensed Lay Ministry. This was different to the other training sessions I have attended as part of the course in that there was no teaching as such, nor was the subject matter geared towards any sort of assignment. Instead, it was more of a guided retreat with plenty of
hanging around doing nothing time for prayer and reflection.
On the first evening, we were read the children’s story “Jane and the Dragon”. The general gist is that Jane – a child being trained to follow in her mother’s footsteps as a lady-in-waiting wants to become a Knight. She tells everyone about her dream to become a Knight but she’s laughed at and told that little girls don’t become Knights. They become ladies-in-waiting. No-one took her seriously. Except the Jester. He let Jane into his secret – he once wanted to be a Knight too, and was told he was too small. And he even had a suit of armour that fitted Jane perfectly. He gave it to her so she can fulfil her dream and the opportunity soon arose when a dragon kidnapped the prince and Jane was able to rescue him, and become friends with the aforementioned dragon in the process. She proved to everyone she is capable of being a Knight and gets to live out her dream.
We were encouraged to reflect on what that story meant to us, and to think about our dreams in the context of our training towards licensed ministry. In small groups we shared what particularly stood out for us in the story, and interestingly in my group we had each focussed on different aspects. For me, it was that Jane’s dream only became a reality because she allowed herself to be vulnerable and tell everyone about it. And it was the least likely person (the jester) who was able to give her the confidence and resources to fulfill her dream.
How can we be more courageous to share our dreams and visions with others, and act on them so that they might become a reality? How might we encourage others to talk about their dreams?
During the weekend, we each had a one-to-one conversation/interview with our bishop, and that was a great opportunity to talk about what might be our God-given dreams (cf Joel 2:28) as lay ministers.
I remembered a quote by Laurence of Arabia I heard from this year’s Vineyard National Leaders Conference (which was incidentally given the theme “Dangerous Dreamers”):
All men dream, but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds, wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act on their dreams with open eyes, to make them possible.