Kings and Dreams
May 30, 2014
Dear child of God,
What do you dream about in your loveliest of dreams?
…Do you know what God dreams about?
If you close your eyes and look with your heart,
I am sure, dear child, that you will find out.
– God’s Dream, by Archbishop Desmond Tutu & Douglas Carlton Abrams
I use Desmond Tutu’s Storybook Bible and his wonderful book God’s Dream often in my work. If you have anything to do with teaching young children, I highly recommend them. I bought them because I adored the artwork, which celebrates diversity. In fact, in the Storybook Bible, a different artist illustrates each page so Jesus is shown with many different colors of skin. Boy, does that inspire some great conversations with kids!
The books are connected by Tutu’s theology of God’s dream, a non-hierarchical metaphor for “the Kingdom of God.” The dream is a longing we can all feel in our hearts for a universally peaceful and generous human society. In these books his description is kid-friendly: people caring, sharing, laughing, playing and loving one another. Even to an adult, God’s Dream is a beautiful and touching refection. Tutu imagines we all have a piece of God’s heart inside us and when we live in peace with one another, God’s heart is whole.
For years, both my spirituality and my theology have revolved around the idea of the Kingdom of God, though I was familiar with objections to the hierarchy implicit in the metaphor. Then it happened that I read God’s Dream and a particular passage in the Hebrew Scriptures on the same day. When the Israelites whine and beg about how they want their very own king, like all the other kids’ nations, God warns them that kings are not always just and good, and few can resist exploiting their power. So Tutu, with the authority of a man who pioneered truth and reconciliation in South Africa, has reimagined an ancient metaphor, and stripped it of that hierarchy. I am very glad.
To me, God is not a king, but The One who calls us, through our dreams and longings, toward this future of generosity and peace, where we might live together in a way that makes God’s heart whole.
Close your eyes and look with your heart. Peer into your deepest longings. Can you see God’s dream?