When you are sleeping, what do you dream about? For some people it's cats. Or clowns. Others dream about flying and having great adventures.
When I was 5, the only dream I had - over and over again - was a very scary one of a big man chasing me. Never fail, as soon as I fell asleep, he would come racing out to get me.
I hated to sleep. Whenever my mom would come into my room to tell me it was time to put away my toys and go to sleep, I would begin crying. She'd have me say some prayers to help me see that God was taking care of me, and that I didn't have to be afraid of that big man in my dreams. But I felt that was easy for her to say - after all, this guy wasn't chasing her, was he?
These dreams went on for over two years. But when I was older - about 7-1/2 - I realized that dreams are not real. That when I was asleep and thought I was at the top of a very high slide, I was actually still safe in my bed, with my mom and dad just down the hall. I was also beginning to learn something else. That if God could love me and take care of me when I was awake, then God could also love me and protect me when I was asleep.
There is a prayer I would say that goes like this:
Guard me when I sleep;
Guide my little feet
Up to Thee. *
Saying this prayer, I knew that God was not going to let the big man hurt me. God is Love. And God is real. And God was more real than the scary man.
Suddenly, an idea came that I realized could only have come from God. I knew this because it was very different from how I had been thinking about that man in my dream. The idea was to become friends with the man!
That night I went to bed very scared again about trying to become friends with the big man. But I had made a promise to God that I would do this. And a promise is a promise.
Once again, I had the dream. He started chasing me all over my dream. I was crying and trying to find my mom. All of a sudden I woke up, and it was morning. I had forgotten my promise to God that I would stop being scared of the man and become friends with him. I was very sad.
The next night I promised again that I would stop being afraid of that man and become friends with him. When the dream began, the man came racing around the corner, making scary noises. I started running. But this time I quickly remembered the promise to God. I remembered that God's love was all around me. Protecting me even in my dreams.
I stopped, and turned around to face the man, and held out my hand. I asked if he wanted to be my friend.
The big man said, "Yes."
I woke up and told my mom!
The next night I had a dream about the man, and once again he started to make scary noises. This time I told him to stop. I reminded him that we were friends now, and that he couldn't scare me anymore.
The next several nights I had dreams about this man - and they were fun! We would take walks in the park. And we would tell jokes!
Then one night I dreamed that the man said good-bye and that he would not be seeing me anymore. By then I was no longer afraid of him. Or of any dream.
I had learned that God takes care of you and me, and that we can remember God even in our dreams. Also that when we pray, even in our dreams, God's love helps us to wake up and see that we are not in any danger, because He is there.
I never had a dream about that big man again.
* Editor's note: This poem was written by Mary Baker Eddy, who founded this newspaper in 1908.
When thou liest down,
thou shalt not be afraid: yea,
thou shalt lie down, and
thy sleep shall be sweet.