I have a dream that I own pet ducks. In the dream I have a garden with a pond, overlooked by trees and I can sit on the perfect lawn watching the ducks swim on the pond. As an added bonus they would produce lots of scrummy eggs for me to have at breakfast. Now I know many of you have chickens and will be championing the idea of keeping these but, how can I put this gently, chickens are horrible mangy creatures with scary eyes and ducks are sweet. So not chickens…but ducks.

It’s not a dream that’s likely to make it to reality but you never know. That’s the beauty of dreaming, it can be anything from wild fantasy to the reasonably possible, as long as it’s something you would like to happen then it’s a dream. Some of us, it seems, are more of a daydreamer than others. I can pass hours and hours dreaming. In my childhood it got me through many a boring rainy afternoon or dull school lesson, as an adult it helps me through boring lectures and dull sermons in the same way. But dreaming can also be a communal activity; how many working adults dream of what will happen when they win the lottery, the things they will buy and the places they will go? They fill tedious working days chatting about their dreams for the future; the holiday they are wanting next year, their upcoming wedding, the baby they long for, their next job that will be so much better paid than their current one.

Over the last few weeks I have met people who no longer allow themselves to dream. Bitter experiences make them claim that dreaming only leads to disappointment. Listening to their stories, it seems they are right. I have heard from people in care growing up dreaming of having a permanent family that never materialises, people in abusive situations dreaming it will end and it didn’t, dreams of love and happily ever afters became relationships that ended badly, dreams of parenthood ended tragically, dreams of working to better themselves turned out to be impossible for so many reasons. In the end it became safer for them not to dream as dreaming gives hope of something better and with hope, there is the danger of disappointment. There is only so much disappointment one person can take before self-preservation sets in and internal barriers go up.

However, it is human nature to dream, we can even do it in our sleep! Therefore it’s not that easy to stop ourselves, to do that we need to find something to stop our minds and make us forget and many, but by no means all, of these people had found the substances to help them do just that. As they slurred their stories to me, spilt alcohol on my feet, shouted and were generally obnoxious I was very aware that these were the people that society shuns. Of course we do, we are continuously fed the lie that they deserve what they get, other people can cope so why don’t they just pick themselves up, sort themselves out and carry on? Standing there in front of them the answer was obvious, they had picked themselves up, over and over and over again in fact, but now they had run out of steam. They had stopped and they just wished the world would stop too. As it doesn’t they had found a way to block it out.

However, when I looked closely, amongst the doom and gloom there was hidden hope. Although they would deny it, this group of society’s misfits had become friends. As much as they would grumble and be nasty about each other, the truth was that they all knew what each other was up to and each one was missed if not seen for a day. In their rough and tumble way they looked out for each other, nobody went hungry…or homeless, problems were shared and advice was given. They were holding each other up from that final drop to the bottom, tentatively maybe, but holding on nonetheless. I wonder how long they need to do this before one of them finds some strength again, to give life another go, to start climbing back up, to begin to dream again?

So today, if you’re one of those of us who dare to dream, spare a thought and a prayer for those who don’t.