For someone whose dream life has been anything but simple and straightforward , I think about dreams a lot, both in an attempt to understand their often malign role in my own life as well as the larger social importance of dreams to the well-being of humanity at large. Our dreams, to a large part, are the storage places of our hopes and fears, and the extent to which our life tends towards one side or the other is often the extent to which we draw strength from our vision of a better future that we are diligently working towards or that we are haunted by the lives that we have lived. There are some occasions where our lives may tend more to one side and more towards the other, and some lives that have a clear and consistent bias one way or the other.
Our dreams are often limited, though, by a variety of factors. For one, it is hard to see ourselves having a future that is much different from the lives that we have known. We can certainly engage in escapist fantasy, but that sort of dream tends to distract us from meaningful action that we can take here and now to make life better rather than inspiring us on towards a path to greatness. When it comes to practical dreams that inspire us, we tend to be remarkably limited by our own optimism as well as our own experiences. If we have lived good lives, then we tend to imagine a future that is not so unlike the life we have lived, and to discount the fears and concerns of those around us. If we have lived difficult lives, it may be impossible for us to imagine what a happy life would be like because we do not have anything to compare it to in our own lives, or any understanding of what it is like to live a certain way. And what we cannot imagine is very difficult to achieve.
As a student of the Bible, I reflect on why the Bible does not speak very much about the new heavens and the new earth. There are some who use this comparative neglect as a sign that our lives in this world are vastly more important than our lives in the world to come. Yet it is not necessary to draw this conclusion if one understands the difficulties of conveying such a glorious existence in terms that would be comprehensible as a human being. Having some kind of glorious and wonderful vision is important, but all the same it is such a difficult matter to conceive of that existence that it is not possible to know or understand a lot of the mundane details of what it is like to be a being who does not hunger nor get tired, who apparently can travel through solid walls yet retain some sort of “form” and “body” that is nevertheless not physical yet can interact with the physical world, and yet is not limited by space and time constraints, nor constraints on the ability to simultaneously process the past, present, and future. Knowing this difficulty, we ought to be compassionate on those poor theologians who feel themselves compelled to speculate and seek to define and explain such matters.
Let us also, though, realize something that is important. The future that we seek is better than our wildest dreams. To be sure, we can also have experiences that are beyond our worst nightmares, but even this can give us an appreciation for what is good that most people cannot appreciate. A greater understanding of the wide range of experiences that this life provides gives us a special appreciation of those moments of happiness and success, knowing that we cannot take such things for granted and appreciate them and the contrast that they provide from what we have known before. Yet our experiences are limited so much by what we can conceive as realistic and practical, and so to conceive of truly revolutionary changes in our lives remains beyond us. We simply have to cope with our reality, knowing that the end we seek is better than our wildest dreams, if we can ever get to where we are going.
 See, for example: