Did Prince visit my wife in a dream?

August 2nd, 2016

Did Prince visit my wife in a dream?

Here's the scoop.

Early in the morning of June 1, my wife had a dream that felt very real. She dreamed she was at a party, and feeling awkward. There was a celebration going on, people dancing, a band playing onstage and a famous guitar player present, identity mysteriously unknown. But Lindsey was feeling massively self-conscious. In her dream she was dressed in army green cargo pants and a long olive green silk shift. (She bids me to clarify: not her usual wardrobe.)

Then in the midst of her interior wardrobe crisis, Prince appears. Not the young, avidly risqué, Purple Rain Prince, but an older Prince, a fatherly Prince, perhaps Prince as a wisdom figure. He walks up to her and says, with utter seriousness:

"Hey, it's not what you wear, it's how you wear it."

And he gives her a hug.

And she feels comforted, and feels much better.

Later the same day — after we talked and had a laugh about this funny, amazing, and actually quite edifying dream — Lindsey noticed that Mayor Steve Adler of her beloved hometown of Austin, Texas, had declared June 1, 2016 "Prince Day."


In any case, this Austin-curious fact was the occasion of more smiles and laughter in the Stringer apartment in Boston.

To be clear, I feel no pressure to draw any conclusions from this experience of Lindsey's, this event or encounter which happened in a dream.

But I do wonder. Has Prince, the formerly living, formerly Artist Formerly Known As Prince, made any other post-mortem appearances or comforting errands?

And, also, I do question… Are we all just way more closely interrelated in mind or soul than we tend to imagine? Such that space and time, life and death are, at least in some ways and times, porous, permeable, pervious to prayers, wishes, contact? As heirs of the rationalist fold of the European Enlightenment, we habitually imagine not... yet...

Yet, sometimes, the dying or dead visit in dreams, with striking and auspicious timing.

In 2010, David Bentley Hart wrote over at First Things:

I was fairly close to both Angela and Jacob throughout our teens; at least, we were all part of the same circle. I briefly entertained the hope of something closer between Angela and myself, and for a few weeks she was more or less my girlfriend; but Jacob “swept her off her feet,” and they were at one school and I at another, so I had no chance. It made no difference to our friendship, though.

Unfortunately, I largely lost touch with Angela when I started attending university. Over the course of the next six months, we crossed one another’s paths only three times or so. On the last occasion, she had just returned from a visit to Paris, from which she had brought home, among other things, the Pléiade edition of Montaigne she proudly showed me.

And that was that. Two and a half years later she was killed when a drunk driver struck her car in an intersection; she was alive for several hours after the collision, but never regained consciousness. That was twenty-five years ago tomorrow.

I learned of her death three days after, from Jacob. (Their romance had not survived their remove to separate colleges, but they had remained friends.) I won’t bother to say how the news affected me, but I will remark that I had had what in retrospect seemed to have been a premonition of it. On the night of her death, Angela had suddenly, for no discernible reason, come into my mind, attended by an inexplicable sense of aching melancholy, which at the time I simply took for acute nostalgia.

Jacob, though, had had something that seemed like much more than a premonition. On the night of Angela’s accident, apparently during the hours when she was lying in the hospital unconscious but still breathing, he had had a particularly vivid dream in which she and he had spoken to one another in a strange house that, after the fashion of dreams, was also somehow a garden (if I have the details right).

Their conversation, which had been pervasively sad, concerned her imminent departure for somewhere far away; and it seemed to Jacob that it was understood between them—in that way in which, in dreams, many unspoken things seem simply to be presumed—that she was leaving on a journey from which she would never return. She told him, he recalled, that she had come only to say good-bye.

Now, these things—my vague intuitions, Jacob’s haunting dream—may have been merely coincidences; but, frankly, I can’t make myself believe that the universe is quite large enough to accommodate coincidences of that kind. What was most extraordinary about our experiences, however, is that they were not that extraordinary at all.

That is, it is rather astonishing how common these encounters with the uncanny really are. You may not recall any yourself, but it is quite likely that you need only ask around among your acquaintances to discover someone who does. I myself have had at least two others, one utterly trivial, one of the most crucial importance, and both together sufficient to convince me that consciousness is not moored to the present moment or local space in quite the same way that the body is.

Then, after commenting on the inadequacy of materialist/physicalist accounts of consciousness, like Daniel Dennett's, Hart concludes:

Whatever the case, I cannot help but believe that on the night when Angela lay dying, some portion of my consciousness was remotely, flickeringly aware of the fact; and that she, or something of her, was able to reach out into Jacob’s dream to make her farewells. But, even in admitting I believe such things, I would never claim to understand them.

Claim to understand such things, certainly not. But... nonetheless... Christians can be forgiven for noticing that they bear a kind of fit with or open orientation toward our doctrine of the communion of saints. "I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Catholic Church, the communion of saints...." Western Christians say those words of the Apostles Creed quite a lot, and Eastern Christians share the doctrine. They name a mystery, at one level, the mystery of our connection to one another, across centuries and locales, in a way that exceeds the material and is mediated by God.

The perhaps weird or surprising intellectual frame toward which the Christian faith draws its adherents is expansive enough to accommodate the countless Marian apparitions and meetings with saints credibly reported through the centuries, as well as near death experiences, encounters with angels, demonic possessions, and myriad other phenomena which plainly occur and are as plainly difficult to understand.

There's no reason, in principle, Prince couldn't make an appearance now and again.

Do be in touch if you've seen him.


See David Hart's whole post here.

For interesting articles on the faith of Prince, look no further than here and here.

For a good lecture which, at length, discusses two 'folds' of the Enlightenment in the context of Henri de Lubac and Hans Urs von Balthasar's responses to such, find Cyril O'Regan here.

Clifton Stringer is a Ph.D. student in Historical Theology at Boston College and the author of Christ the Lightgiver in the Converge Bible Studies series.

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