Dreaming a Dream

It was 1999, and I was serving a church in Trenton, NJ. Trying to decide what to do as a relationship was dying. Trying to remember the dream of forever that was embedded in my marriage vows, implied by my faith, inspired by my parents’ long sometimes rocky, often tender marriage.

I received this book, this beautiful book, as a Christmas present from my youngest brother. We’ve shared books about Africa, about Black history; we give them to each other, a shared vocabulary in a family that loves the spoken word; a silent conversation. I see you, I know you like this kind of thing, need this kind of thing. Once it was a beautiful book about the kings and queens of African nations. Once it was a book about Black hair, and the ways Black women make magic out of it. Once a book on the spectacular hats of Black church ladies.

This time, this year it was I Dream a World: Portraits of Black Women who Changed America by Brian Lanker. Opening it, I gingerly touched its pages, studying the portraits of these stunning women who dreamed a world of peace, of wholeness, of safety for their people—my people, all people. I noticed lines etched in their faces, strong and fierce and beautiful faces. I touched the pages, weeping, praying, remembering that in my blood, in my DNA, is the stuff of dreams. Dreams deferred; dreams fraught, frustrated; dreams of a world full of revolutionary love and justice for all; a dream determined to become true.

Standing in the pulpit at Middle Church, I study your faces, each like a portrait in a book. Wide eyed faces of toddlers in the Family Zone; wise, knowing faces of seniors, framed in greying hair. The glowing faces of expectant mothers; the pained faces of those who have lost loved ones.

Scanning, I feel so curious. What is it that you are dreaming? New job? New apartment? Forgive- ness? Peace? Love? A safe world, free of violence and fear?

I pray, as Easter comes, that anything that feels wooden, frightening, or dead for you is quickened with new life. I pray your dreams of peace and freedom come true. I thank God and the universe that we are connected here, in this space we called Middle. Dreaming a dream we can make together. Dreaming a world we can create together. A world that will be honed out of our faith and struggle; a dream fueled by our time, talent, and treasure. A dream birthed by Love. Period.

The staff, our consistory, and I thank you for being the stuff of our dreams. Being in relationship with you—working together to liberate our souls and the world—is a dream come true. Happy Easter and so much love

Jacqui Lewis