by Brittany Graves
Lately, I have thought of the dreams of my grandmothers and what they may have dreamt up for me and the descendants that would come after them. My maternal grandmother, a woman who could play the piano by ear and is referred to as an itinerant pastor now but likely would have not received that title in her lifetime, must have had dreams for herself outside of the barriers that society or culture or even religion placed on her as a pastor’s wife and mother to nine children.
When I think of my paternal grandmother, I imagine the land and space of the historically black town where my dad’s family lived where ecosystems were built. She shared the eggs laid from the chickens they raised or canned peaches that fell from their fruit trees with her surrounding community. I still remember eating collard greens for Thanksgiving that were soaked in the sink and handpicked from the backyard for family dinner. In this small town she stayed but wanted her children to go out and explore opportunity for advancement outside of it.
I imagine what they would think or say as I have pursued dreams that they likely had no concept to dream up in the same way. Growing up in two different generations where segregation, the Civil Rights Movement, and more overt harmful systems were prevalent for them. But for me, experiencing the nuanced ways microaggressions or outdated paradigms can prohibit freedom in my lifetime has awakened me to the ways to step into liberation more.
In my ministry journey redefining what it means to be an ordained Black clergywoman and reimagining ways to step into all-around advocacy are of the utmost importance for me to move into greater purpose rather than continuing to do things in the same way. Early on for me, if I experienced resistance to who society says I should be or what I can or cannot do, I would meet that resistant energy by standing my ground or challenging a system that was created for constraint or limitation to continue.
While there is a time when confrontation has its place, I also believe it is important to lean less into resistance and more into what it means to bring ease, and especially to create ease, for those where it is not always readily accessible. I will give one example. As someone who has spoken openly about overcoming sexual assault and its connection to patriarchal systems, it is even more important for me to find and create spaces to focus on liberation, consent, and sex positivity versus remaining in places that do not easily build that same safety. As a clergywoman nowadays, I find myself less concerned with fitting in, but instead authentically living into being my full self and giving others the ability to meet me there.
Imagine how we can facilitate a space of ease for ourselves or individuals in our surrounding community and beyond. These are the spaces where we can be our ancestors’ wildest dreams, able to build a bridge back to our passions, freedom, and remembering our unique gifts.
Dreaming has become my advocacy, my liberation, and my sense of ease. Dreaming is a divine opportunity and sacred dance that helps us move beyond reacting or responding to life’s challenges but embody living. What are your essentials that give you space to dream?
For some of us, the ability to dream does not come naturally if we don’t have the time to step back from productivity culture or if we exist in systems that prohibit relaxation and clarity. It is a practice and a privilege to cultivate rest and a divine birthright nonetheless to dream and create our reality into being.
In my dream work training, a truth that deeply resonates with me is that the wisdom and richness of our dreams come to teach us to wake up to healing and to be of service to our purpose—individually and collectively. There is an intricate connection between the dreams we have when we sleep and the subconscious messages they send that can awaken imagination and possibility in our waking life. As crazy as some of our dreams might seem, there is meaning and purpose that can lead to greater discovery when we take them seriously.
So, when I think of my grandmothers and what they have dreamt up for me, I think of their resiliency and the legacy they have passed down for me to live out my dreams.
Rev. Brittany Graves is ordained clergy, an all-around advocate, dreamworker, reiki practitioner and co-host of Nuance Tea Podcast. Keep up with her on www.patreon.com/revbrittanygraves.