Awakening to God’s Presence

I stayed up late one night reading Catherine McNiel’s new book, All Shall Be Welland then I dreamt that we were having tea together at her house. I left her place late, long after her other guests had left, because I had to search for my camera that I had brought with me in my grey bag. By the time I found it, the street outside was flooded.

To get home I needed to walk across a hill to where my sister was waiting to pick me up, but the hill too was flooded. Far below I saw cars floating in a muddy river, and where I stood higher up, clear water swirled around my ankles.

On the other side of the hill, there was no flood, and my sister stood down below on dry ground waiting for me beside her little blue car. Between us there was a chasm. “How did you get there?” I called out.

“Jump!” she called back. But I couldn’t jump because the chasm was too wide, and I was afraid I’d fall in.

On my side of the hill the water was still rising. “Will you let me drown?” I cried out to God. “I cannot be meant to die like this.”

So I climbed further up the hill, higher and higher until I was on dry ground in a meadow, and the chasm had narrowed to a point. I rounded the point and walked down the hill on the dry side to my sister’s car. By the time she drove me home, I was mainly awake, and thought to myself, “All shall be well.”

I don’t often remember my dreams, but when I do they are most often vivid like this one with some significance. In this case, my dream was obviously connected to my late night reading, and although the middle part was a nightmare, I woke with a sense of comfort, with God’s reassurance that whatever happens in this life, whatever floods, whatever steep climbs, whatever challenges, “all shall be well.” That night I literally awoke to God’s presence.

The “all shall be well” line comes from a medieval spiritual classic: The Revelations of Divine Love by Julian of Norwich, which she based on a series of visions that she had received. How appropriate then that I should have a dream about it. And how apt a title for Catherine McNiel’s new book which is all about God’s presence and transformation in the ordinary moments of life: All Shall Be Well: Awakening to God’s Presence in His Messy, Abundant World (NavPress, 2019).

I hosted Catherine on my blog when her first book was released, Long Days of Small Things: Motherhood as a Spiritual Discipline (NavPress, 2017). For young moms and all of us who love them, I found it to be an honest, practical, and inspiring read. All Shall Be Well makes a fine follow-up—another honest look at life, this time following the seasons of the year through spring, summer, fall, and winter. And this book is also a practical and inspiring guide with suggestions for cultivating hope, purpose, trust, and other spiritual practices.

At one point in her book, Catherine writes, “I wonder what new spark you are kindling within me.” Her beautifully written book sparked a dream of God’s presence and reassurance for me. I wonder what new spark God is kindling within you.

Writing/Reflection Prompt: When I woke up, I wrote down my dream, then went back to sleep. By morning I had already forgotten some of the details, like my camera in the grey bag (which by the way usually holds my shoes, not a camera). Do you remember your dreams? What significance do they carry for you?

Catherine McNiel author photo

Catherine McNiel is a writer and speaker who seeks to open eyes to God’s creative redemptive work in each day–while caring for three kids, two jobs, and one enormous garden.

Disclosure: The author and I are both part of the Redbud Writers Guild, and I received a complimentary copy of All Shall Be Well from NavPress. As always, the choice to feature a book and any opinions expressed are my own and freely given.

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4 thoughts on “Awakening to God’s Presence

  1. Beautiful thoughts, resonating with me as I have spoken recently on Gods beautiful presence, and love Julian’s heart cry All Will Be Well. I speak those words often to patients, not in a curative way, but the incredible knowledge that when we practice and live in the presence of God, all IS well. Thank you, this book looks like a great read.

  2. I have always been interested in my dreams. Probably because my grandmother, a wonderful storyteller, told me about Samuel’s dream and how it was God calling him in the night. And Joseph’s dream and also his ability to interpret dreams. If we are open to God’s voice we will hear it in different ways—dreams is one of them.
    Thanks for sharing your dream and for reminding me of the assurance from God that “all shall be well.”

    1. That’s a beautiful legacy from your grandmother, Elfrieda. Although the Bible is an ancient book, the stories and dreams in its pages still resonate today and remind us that God speaks in many ways including in our dreams.

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