“Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent."
(Arriving in NYC, 1964. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons free images.)
Perhaps I should have had this dream on December 8. But I didn't. I had it last night.
I dreamt I met John Lennon before he died. And I hugged him tightly for a long time. And I cried.
But he was sick or something. I knew it immediately. He was so thin when I hugged him I could feel his ribs and shoulder blades. It was a familiar, heartbreaking look. "Cancer" was the word that came to mind, but I didn't say it. I didn't say much of anything except this:
"You don't know how much you mean to us.... to people of this generation. Well, I'm not really even a part of it, but I've always felt like I am. And you just... you just don't know how much we love you."
He was generous, although clearly this wasn't his first choice of where to be. Sort of like the way you try to be nice to the nurse at the doctor's office. You hate the whole visit, but you figure it isn't her fault she works there and you have to come against your will. I don't remember exactly why he was there—in the front room of my uncle's house—but I got the impression that whatever had compelled him, he was too weak to fight. Acquiescence is easier than battle, especially when you're already tired and sick and worn out.
I woke up happy, feeling privileged and honored by this ethereal glimpse (and touch) of a hero of a generation... my generation, as The Who would say. Of course, that same song included the line, "I hope I die before I get old." Poignant or prophetic?
Anyway, I felt happy and peaceful when I awoke... until I realized that I have no assurance of ever really meeting John in Heaven. I will not pretend to play God and discern his eternal destiny. In fact, it is a great comfort to me that God knows our hearts, all of us, and that His is the only opinion that will matter on Judgment Day. Still, it's hard to imagine anyone in Heaven who writes of desiring a world like this:
Imagine there's no heaven
It's easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today...
Are Strawberry Fields anything like Elysian Fields? Will I ever see John again?
It's times like these when I fervently wish I were Catholic, so I could pray for the souls of the dead and believe it might do them some good. As it is, I trust God feels my anguish and that His is greater still over all the lost sheep—including the one who imagines for a moment that there is no Good Shepherd searching for him.