Hearing God’s Voice in Our Dreams
BY ELLIE HIDALGO | January 3, 2021
As we begin this new year, I am taken by today’s reading and how the magi who visit Jesus make an important decision based on a nighttime dream. In the dream, they are warned not to return to Herod, and so they decide to travel to their country by another route. What was it about the dream that persuaded the three wise men to change course? Could they really trust God speaking to them in a dream?
The Christmas season is about noticing how the Holy Spirit breaks into our lives in unexpected ways. “The world is charged with the grandeur of God,” writes the poet Gerald Manley Hopkins, and this is an invitation to notice the many creative ways God speaks to us—through poetry, song lyrics, movies, art, nature, conversation, and even dreams. And today we can add e-reflections, podcasts, and videos. The Holy Spirit tries to make use of all of it.
Yet discernment goes hand in hand with noticing how the Spirit might be breaking in. It’s not always the Spirit. How can we tell the difference? I imagine that following their dream, the magi reflected on their earlier interaction with Herod and how it left them wary of Herod’s real intentions after telling him about Jesus’ birth. Perhaps it was something in Herod’s troubled tone of voice or the dull gaze in his eyes when he pretended to be delighted that a newborn king had arrived. The dream confirms their intuition that something isn’t right. The magi’s values of love, generosity, and hope in the birth of Jesus is not being reciprocated by Herod. Heeding the felt warning in the dream, they make a new decision to take another path home.
Often our minds, hearts, and souls desire God’s affirmation or God’s warning as we make new plans or seek a fresh perspective to help us get unstuck. A fresh perspective can offer a new direction to which we can say yes. Sometimes, however, God gives us a warning of where we need to set a limit or even say no to something.
Yet God’s whispering can get lost in our fast paced, noisy, busy world. The new year invites us to take time to pray, journal, go on a walk, meditate, read, sing, and make a little room to encounter Jesus anew. The more we stay connected to our deepest desires for ourselves, our families, our communities, and our world, the more we can notice God breaking in with needed guidance, whether it is in the presence of a newborn child or in the symbols of a dream.
Ellie Hidalgo co-directs Discerning Deacons, a project dedicated to contributing to the Catholic Church’s discernment about admitting women to the diaconate and to creating a more synodal, listening, participatory Church. Previously, she served as pastoral associate at Dolores Mission Church and School in Boyle Heights/East Los Angeles, CA. Ellie received her master’s in pastoral theology from Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles.
Ellie Hidalgo co-dirige Discerning Deacons (discerniendo el diaconado), un proyecto dedicado al discernimiento de la Iglesia Católica sobre la admisión de las mujeres al diaconado y a la creación de una Iglesia más sinodal, de escucha y participación. Anteriormente, sirvió como asociada pastoral en la Iglesia y Escuela Misión Dolores en Boyle Heights/East Los Angeles, CA. Ellie recibió su maestría en teología pastoral de la Universidad Loyola Marymount en Los Angeles.
Beautiful reflection! Great reminder to keep my ears and eyes open, to see and hear God however God desires to speak to my heart!!
Ellie certainly makes some good points about the creative ways God becomes part of our lives. So often as I drive, I hear something on the radio that sticks with me for the day. It often reminds me to attend to a particular person or situation but sometimes it is a phrase that goes through my head many times that day and I want to discern what is best. In listening to the Holy Spirit, He makes clear what the direction should be. As we go through the day we return to the message.that the podcast left with us. Offer to others the possibility of making straight the way of the Lord.
As a Christian who considers my assent to Christ’s command to preach the Good News everywhere, I write or speak where I judge it proper to the occasion and audience. Prayer in private is always good. And as many wise people say, sometimes actions speak louder than words.
I loved the wakening up to the awareness of how God speaks to us in so many ways. Reminds me of the book about God’s WINKS…Thanks, Ellie for reminding us of so many ways…
Congratulations to my daughter Ellie, for this inspirational reflection, perfect to prepare for an Ignatian Retreat Meditation. Very proud of Ellie. Keep the good work AMDG
Manuel, What a blessing Ellie is to your family. There are so many blessings to count and she certainly is one of them. Blessings now and always.
What a beautiful reflection. Thanks. Indeed, “the world is charged with the grandeur of God.”
Thank you for your thoughts and words! It is amazing how, at different times, reflection can fill us with joy, strength to get through adversity, and forgiveness to move with/through our imperfections. Peace!