When most teenagers decorated their bedroom walls with pictures of pop singers, film stars and footballing celebrities (usually Everton and Liverpool players!), my own pin-ups were photos of the archaeological sites and splendours of ancient Greece, Rome and Egypt. I read every book in the local library and sent applications to other libraries to borrow more. Tudor history filled every moment that was not already crammed with the ancient world. Then, when I discovered the ‘real’ Richard III rather than the parody portrayed in Shakespeare’s play (my only bone of contention with Shakespeare and St. Thomas More), I could defend the last of the Plantagenet kings with the best of them. I still remember my whoop of delight when a court in the 1980s exonerated Richard of the responsibility for the murders of the two princes held in the Tower of London. I cannot forget my first experience of entering the hallowed halls of the British Museum with the awe and reverence normally due to a church. Even today, I look at the Tower of London and consider it ‘mine’!
This morning, as I walked alongside the River Tiber on my way to work, looking at the magnificence of the Castel Sant’Angelo and musing on its history over the centuries, it occurred to me that, never in my wildest dreams would I have dared imagine that, one day, I’d be in the middle of Rome. To stroll along the banks of the Tiber, to wander around the Forum on my way home “just because I felt like it”, to debate whether or not I have the time for the 20 minute trip to Ostia Antica (which I’ve visited at least eight times), is nothing short of a dream come true.
There’s no harm in having a dream or two…or three…or four. They are a sign of hope for the future, of joy that can unfold, of interest that can inspire and of excitement that can change mere existence into living life to the full. To have a dream is a gift from God in itself, a sign that there is a possibility beyond the immediate needs and situations of daily life. To have a dream come true is also a gift from the same loving God, a cause for thanksgiving and a song in the heart.