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Fragments on Fragments #11: Being Human in a Pandemic

Fragments on Fragments #11: Being Human in a Pandemic


11 Even those sleeping are working, co-operating in making something of the world


What might it mean for us all if the sleeping work of each of us, in our own private world, were really contributing to the waking world we share? The norm in individualist societies is to assume that our dream world is just about us, but that of course is a cultural assumption. In many societies, past and present, dreams are assumed to tell the community something about its life together and what the future holds. 


So maybe we could think about what it would mean if both were true? Not so much the idea that dreams are predictors of the future for society, as the thought that maybe in our sleeping work we are doing something which will always have an effect beyond our own selves. Asleep we live again, sometimes more acutely than when we’re awake, the things going on in our lives – our shared lives in community as well as our individual issues. 


As we sleep, we are doing our own individual work or trying to make sense of what our waking selves are experiencing. And that work can also contribute to our communal work. In these fragments, I am trying to do exactly that. I’ve been wrestling myself with all the issues I’m writing about, even remembering a few dreams, which is very unusual for me. Now in this writing I’m sharing and stretching those thoughts. I don’t have any definitive answers, but I hope I can contribute to our common task. It was as I was going to sleep that this fragment reached its finished form in my mind.


Fragments on Fragments are written by the Right Reverend Jonathan Clark, Bishop of Croydon in the Church of England. He introduces the whole series here. Alongside the words is an image by Alison Clark of a broken sand dollar, gilded in reference to the Japanese practice of kintsugi: you can find more of her work here.


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