by Father Mark Goldasich
Do you remember your dreams?
No, not those that come when you fall asleep. The dreams I’m thinking of are those that you had for your life at one time. Are you the person today that you thought you would be? Or, as the years have gone on, have you settled for much less than you once hoped for?
For the past several weeks, I’ve been frequenting clips on YouTube from “America’s Got Talent,” “Britain’s Got Talent” and “The X Factor.” I’m sure I turn to these as an antidote to this relentless pandemic — and to the seemingly nonstop bombardment of political ads (which, sadly, even inserted themselves into YouTube videos).
When we’re tempted to be sucked down by the bleakness and division that’s all around us, it’s essential to remember that there’s a whole other side to life. Shows like “America’s Got Talent” help us to see dreamers having an incredible outlet to showcase their talents of singing, dancing, magic and comedy.
I can’t watch these clips without a sense of humility and thankfulness for all of the “regular” people out there who are so talented. And, yes, I’m not ashamed to admit that many times I get teary-eyed hearing the backstory to some of these entertainers, who have often experienced serious illnesses, bullying, disabilities of various kinds and all manner of tough life situations. Seeing their emotional reactions to accolades of the audience and the judges touches a deep place in my heart.
These performers risked following their dreams, no matter their ages. From the young kids who sing and dance to 89-year-old English Korean War vet Colin Thackery to Archie Williams, who spent 37 years incarcerated for a crime he did not commit — these brave souls show what it means to dream.
As a dreamer myself, I often reflect on this “motto” of Gen. Douglas MacArthur, inspired by the poem “Youth” by American poet and humanitarian Samuel Ullman:
“Nobody grows old merely by living a number of years. People grow old by deserting their ideals. Years wrinkle the soul. Worry, doubt, self-distrust, fear and despair — these are the long, long years that bow the head and turn the spirit back to dust. . . . You are as young as your faith, as old as your doubts; as young as your self-confidence, as old as your fears; as young as your hope, as old as your despair.”
I sometimes wonder if we Christians have lost or abandoned our dreams. Have we resigned ourselves to the values of this world and given up on the dream of “a new heaven and a new earth”? Do we treat the words of the Scriptures as wishful thinking, or embrace them as a pattern for a truly fulfilling life?
Finally, do we still dream of becoming saints, or believe instead that we could never attain such a level of holiness or goodness?
Take to heart these words of President Woodrow Wilson: “We grow great by dreams. All big men [and women] are dreamers. . . . Some of us let these great dreams die, but others nourish and protect them through the bad days till they bring them to the sunshine and light which comes always to those who sincerely hope that their dreams will come true.”
Don’t ever settle for “what is.” Embrace the “what if” of the Spirit to live a life beyond your wildest dreams.