LAURA HUFF HILEMAN, M.A., M.S. I am a certificated Dream Consultant and Spiritual Director, and I've facilitated dream groups and taught dreamwork since 1999. I trained at Haden Institute, completing 2-year programs in both Dream Spirituality and Spiritual Direction. My Masters’ degrees are in English (Vanderbilt University) and Psychology (Lipscomb University). Second Presbyterian in Nashville TN is my home church, where we've shared a dream group for 15 years. Dreamwork venues include St. Mary’s at Sewanee, SoulFeast, Stillpoint, Kanuga Summer Dream Conference, IASD International Conference, and Haden Institute, where I've mentored in the Dream Spirituality program.
My Story I’ve been aware of significant dreams since I was a young adult, but I didn’t realize they could serve as my fire by night until the beginning of midlife. At that point I had a powerful dream:
I’ve been sitting for a long time beside a manhole cover in the floor of my childhood church. It is in the "cross" of the sanctuary - the spot where the nave and transept meet. Suddenly I hear a heavy grating sound, and I turn to find that the cover has moved aside and a dark passageway has opened down below the floor. I can't see where it leads, but I slip over the edge and down into the darkness. I find myself descending through a complicated sewer system. - this is bewildering but not scary. Finally it opens into clear water, and I realize I'm deep in the ocean . Sunlight filters through the water. Everything is blue, silent, alive with light, I am moving in the current, but I am not swept away. This place is indescribably beautiful, and I am suffused with amazement and joy.
***************************** I woke shaken and exhilarated, knowing the dream was truer than the breaking dawn, and that things were already changing. A descent and breakthrough seemed imminent.
The next weekend I went to a class I’d signed up for called, providentially, “Listening Out of the Depths.” I was amazed to learn that dreams are actually a long-honored way of listening for God in Christian and other wisdom traditions. Continual thanks to Dr. Ben Curtis, my first dream mentor! Some powerful dreams followed, and discerning that dreamwork was a calling, I began the two-year dream program at the Haden Institute. There I earned certifications as both a Dream Consultant and a Spiritual Director.
In 1999 I started a dream group in my church - one of many that have sprouted in churches over recent years. We believe that dream groups should become a standard part of church program and a resource for seekers of any kind. Those wise and generous souls have been my constant teachers as I’ve learned to deepen my own faith and dreamwork, and help others discover the creative wisdom at the heart of dreaming.
Dream partners have also been dear companions as I've learned to trust divine Love that asks us to "grow up by growing down." Just as the dream showed me, I learned that tending to dream wisdom is like being in the center of my inner sanctuary, relinquishing my best intentions and trusting that Way necessarily opens through my "holy crap" to a truth that ego alone would never find. Over time, the dreams ask me live with increasing compassion and courage, and show me images of the Providence to do so.
I want to thank all the beloved people who have helped form me over the years into an incomplete, imperfect, Jesus-loving liberal Presbyterian who finds church to be an always-sustaining community and sometimes-frustrating institution; a teacher in continual awe of her students; the mom of three fine sons; a member of a loving family; and the grateful friend of too many wonderful people to name.