Jim Mayzik SJ                   Everything Matters
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Jim Mayzik SJ Blog

I'll be using this space from time to time to share my reflections and thoughts on various topics.  Please feel free to add to the conversation by writing some reaction in the COMMENT section! 

 

 

Dream, baby, dream.

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I’ve been to the movie theaters several times now to see La La Land. What can I say? It has captured my heart, certainly because it is (in part) about the art of filmmaking--which I love and have been involved with for over 30 years.  I’ve worked on dozens of films over that time, and I have taught hundreds of students how to use the medium to express—with creativity and emotion---the joy, the pain and the hope that lives within their souls.  

But La La Land is about much more than the movie business. It’s about the human yearning to dream of impossibly wonderful things in your life. The two main characters in the movie dream of using their gifts in music and acting to touch the world.  And the story is about how difficult it can be to achieve the dream, and the costs it demands of both of them.

It’s a musical, and the music in the movie is, as intended, lovely and memorable. And I’ve caught myself humming and singing the lyrics of one of its great songs, which is called The Fools Who Dream. So bring on the rebels, the ripples from pebbles, the painters, and poets and plays. Here’s to the ones who dream, crazy as they may seem.  Here’s to the hearts that ache, here’s to the mess that we make.”

The dream. When I was little, I would sometimes leave my playmates outside and retreat to my bedroom to listen to music that I loved. At that age I didn’t know why exactly the music mattered to me so much. But I would play some songs over and over again because I guess they inspired me to dream. Songs from the Beatles, Cat Stevens, Dylan. But I was also very touched by the music of some plays. One favorite was from Man of La Mancha: To Dream the Impossible Dream. It inspired me to want to do important things in my life: to right the unrightable wrong, to fight for the right without question or pause, to be willing to march into hell for a heavenly cause.

And the music pointed me towards real people who seemed to be doing all of that with their lives: Lincoln and Gandhi, Mother Theresa, Albert Schweizer, Helen Keller, Martin Luther King. They all had dreams of doing something impossibly wonderful in the world, and I guess I hoped to the same thing with my own life in some way.

I think we all dream of wonderful things, don’t we?  Maybe our songs reveal how universal those desires really are. I went online and looked up songs with the theme of dreams, and I found hundreds of them: songs by Green Day, Ray Orbison, John Lennon, Beyonce, Elvis Presley, Eurythmics, the Everly Brothers, Mariah Carey, Katy Perry, Drake White, Hall and Oates, Beck, Mama Cass, Phish, Kenny Rogers, Bruce Springsteen.  Of course many songs speak of the dream of loving and being loved by someone.  But so many actually point to the yearning for something more idealistic, to do something with your life that is selfless, to help make the world better for all.

Billy Joel sings of the River of Dreams.

John Lennon’s famous lines: “Imagine no possessions, I wonder if you can; No need for greed or hunger, A brotherhood of man;  Imagine all the people, Sharing all the world... You may say I'm a dreamer, But I'm not the only one…”. 

And Springsteen, the Boss: “Come on and open your heart…come on, dream on, dream baby dream”.

Isaiah had a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places made plain, and the crooked places made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed. God will make you a light to all nations, he said, that his salvation may reach to the ends of the earth. 

John the Baptist saw the dream of his life appear in the flesh before his eyes, and he couldn’t help but sing out to what he saw: “Behold the Lamb of God!”

God’s entrance into human history wasn’t sung by an angel, but by a dirty, smelly, unattractive crackpot who ate bugs with a touch of honey to help them go down without vomiting.  "I baptize you with water, but One more powerful than I has come, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.”

Behold, baby, dream baby dream, the Lamb of God.

When the Lamb of God came walking by, all of humanity finally had the answer to that dream of a song in our hearts.  The Lamb of God was the dream that mattered more than anything else in life. And when they saw the dream walking by in the flesh, well, those who had courage followed their hearts and followed Him. They walked with him and learned from him as he embraced the poor, the broken, the outcast, and the sinners. The hearts of his followers were opened as he gathered those who were lost, those who were embittered and hate-filled, those who hurt others, those who were unloved or had forgotten how to love, and maybe especially those who couldn’t dream anymore. And dreams came true in the flesh: people were healed, bodies were raised from the dead, love trumped hate, and new dreams were born.


Martin Luther King had a dream “that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal’”.

He had a dream that “one day little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls” and walk together as sisters and brothers.

Mother Theresa said that “Not all of us can do great things.  But we can do small things with great love…and at the end of life we will not be judged by how many diplomas we have received, how much money we have made, how many great things we have done…We will be judged by “I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat, I was naked and you clothed me.  I was homeless, and you took me in.”

Pope Francis asked a crowd of a million young people in Poland this summer, “Are you capable of dreaming?” “Yes,” they responded with great enthusiasm.

Francis continued: “Some say to me that dreaming big is tough…’I fall down so often when I try.’  Well then, if you fall, look up a bit and you’ll see God’s outstretched hand. He is telling you: get up and come with me.”

“And so we ask the Lord to launch us on the adventure of building bridges and tearing down walls, barriers and barbed wire. Launch us on the adventure of helping the poor, those who feel lonely and abandoned, or no longer find meaning in their lives. Send us to listen attentively to those we do not understand, even those we are afraid of because we consider them a threat. And make us attentive to our elders, in order to learn from their wisdom.”

Do we see the real dream of John the Baptist?  Do we want to live the dream of the Lamb of God? 

That dream is made real by the way in which we live it out with the unnamed saints and sinners we encounter every day, on street corners, in supermarkets, in our own homes, and on the express bus and the subway. 

It is found in every moment when we have the courage to live our faith with our brothers and sisters who are suffering all around us:

when we have the courage to match our hope with other’s despair,

when we choose to reach out to those who don’t like us or who reject us,

when we choose to listen with love, heal with love, empower with love, forgive with love,

and when we choose to make the dream come true for others before pursuing our own dreams.

The human yearning to dream of impossibly beautiful things for your life and for the world: it’s not just in La La Land. It’s in all of us. It’s the dream that the Lamb of God came to make come true for all of us. 

And so let us follow the dream, together and today.

Dream baby dream
Dream baby dream
Dream baby dream
Come on and dream baby dream
Come on and dream baby dream

We gotta keep the light burning
Come on, we gotta keep the light burning
Come on, we gotta keep the light burning
Come on, we gotta keep the light burning
Come on and dream baby dream

We gotta keep the fire burning
Come on, we gotta keep the fire burning
Come on, we gotta keep the fire burning
Come on and dream baby dream

Come open up your heart
Come on and open up your heart
Come on and open up your heart
Come on dream on, dream baby dream

Come on and open up your heart
Come on and open up your hearts
Come on and open up your hearts
Come on dream on, dream baby dream

Come on, we gotta keep on dreaming
Come on, we gotta keep on dreaming
Come on, we gotta keep on dreaming
Come on dream on, dream baby dream

Come on darling and dry your eyes
Come on baby and dry your eyes
Come on baby and dry your eyes
Come on dream on, dream baby dream

Yeah I just wanna see you smile
Now I just wanna see you smile
Yeah I just wanna see you smile
Come on dream on, dream baby dream

Come on and open up your hearts
Come on and open up your hearts
Come on and open up your hearts
Come on dream on, dream baby dream

Yeah I just wanna see you smile
And I just wanna see you smile
Yeah I just wanna see you smile
Come on dream on, dream baby dream

Yeah I just wanna see you smile
Yeah I just wanna see you smile
Yeah I just wanna see you smile
Come on dream on, dream baby dream

Come on and open up your heart
Come on and open up your heart
Come on and open up your heart
Come on dream on, dream baby dream

Come on dream on, dream on baby
Come on dream on, dream on baby
Come on dream on, dream on baby
Come on dream on, dream baby dream

 

 

James MayzikComment