This post is part of a series. For the whole story/thought-process, start here.
One of the reasons I’m a big fan of the Bible is that it was written over millennia, but it has these overarching themes and symbols (plus one major storyline) that run through the whole thing. One of these symbols is that of a banquet. From the very beginning, the image of banquet means fullness and celebration in fellowship with God. There are some messed up feasts in the Bible, too, but when prophets prophesy about God’s reinstating His rule over the earth, sometimes the images they use are firey and brimstoney, but often they’re about a big old party.
The multinational banquet image I found in Isaiah especially, really inspired my time in London. I just wanted to be with all my friends, partying with Jesus, I guess. One of these days I’ll tell you about the actual party that happened five years after I daydreamed about it, but today I’m going to tell you about the night dream that I had about a banquet instead.
I was, indeed, living in London, and three of my friends (two men and a woman) had just “broken up with” me. There was no actual romance involved on my end, although a couple of them had misunderstood the rather stifling and possessive kind of friendship that I practiced at the time (an outworking of codependency). The fault wasn’t all mine, but the whole experience had set me very painfully back on my heels. It was starting to dawn on me that the relational anxiety and competitiveness in which I had always existed, even as a small child, weren’t detrimental only to me, but were harmful to other people. I had just been trying to imagine myself without the characteristic which my erstwhile friends were calling my “jealousy,” and I realised I couldn’t imagine it at all, but that I wanted to be rid of it, even if it meant I were reduced to nothing and nobody. I’d rather be nothing than jealous, I decided. I told God this in no uncertain terms, and then I lay down and cried myself to sleep, as I had been doing the previous few nights.
Unlike the other nights, that night I had a dream. In the dream, I was at a banquet. I was seated at a long, long table, with many people around it and a white tablecloth over it. The lighting was dim enough and the table long enough that I couldn’t actually see the far end of it, but I was seated right near the head of the table. I feel like Jesus was supposed to be sitting at the head itself, but I can’t remember if He was in the dream or not, or if we were waiting for Him to get there, or if He was there but somehow I couldn’t quite see Him or He wasn’t quite aware of me. Although the me sleeping in the bed having this dream was 28 or so, the me in the dream was just a little girl. I suppose my dream self was about 7 or 8. On my left was one of the people who had just sworn off my friendship. She was talking to someone across the table from us. I didn’t know him.
All of a sudden she turned slightly and noticed me sitting at her elbow. “Oh, hello, little girl,” she said, all cheerful but condescending, as some adults are with children, “What’s your name?”
“I’m Jennifer,” I said.
“What’s that?” she asked, although I could tell she hadn’t really even been listening.
“I’m Jennifer,” I said a little louder.
“Stephanie? That’s nice.” And then she continued her conversation across the table with her new friend.
“Jennifer!” I shouted, “I’m Jennifer!” But no one could hear me. I woke up just as I had fallen asleep–crying. I wondered if giving up my jealousy would mean that no one would hear me ever again. Would I effectively cease to exist?
I have another memory of this banquet, though. I don’t know if I night-dreamed it or daydreamed it. I don’t remember if it was during this same time period or much later. I don’t remember if it was involuntary or my way of “fixing” the scenario I had dreamed. I don’t think it really matters, to be honest. I don’t think its time and method of transmission makes it any less true. Whatever it was, I have this vague recollection, after the desolation of not being heard, of getting up from my chair because Someone was calling me Jennifer, and it was Jesus, right there at the head of the table, and I climbed into His lap and He held me.