I had an amazing dream last night that seemed to be a kind of cinematic epic of sin and degradation of earth and people, but with familiar characters and places. It was at once contemporary and futuristic, like a scene where I took an over-water monorail to a huge resort for a wedding. On both sides of me in the ocean I saw humans polluting the water with recreational water vehicles (such a mini-amusement parks on pontoons that could be rented out by four or five people), and on the other side, huge military tankers running aquatic exercises with bombs and myriad other destructive elements. The scene was total chaos, but also “fun” enough that I could understand how we had allowed things to get that bad. “Woe to us,” I thought (in my dream). “I remember when the seas were open and unmolested compared to this.” For as far as the eye could see there was nothing but revelry and destruction.
The wedding was an orgy of expense and indulgence. The bride was a 46-year old Jewish woman. The groom, a 16-year old Indian boy. When I protested, “How can she marry a child!?” I was told that he was a prodigy, a graduate of Princeton. The guests — both the Jewish side of the family and the friends from India — were decked out in glorious saris and other traditional garb. The part of the resort where the wedding was held was called “The Raja Room.” (Is this all symbolic or WHAT? I didn’t even know I knew that word!!) Hundreds of guests drank, made each other exorbitant gifts ($700 is one number I recall), and made sarcastic wagers as to how long the marriage would last. “I give it four months,” I said, and wandered off in despair, having been told by some guests that I should keep my negative judgments to myself.
Coming across a gaggle of drinking, gambling friends of the groom, I burst into a diatribe about cynicism, this display of obscene wealth, the wrongness of a 16 year-old being married to a middle aged partner*, and on and on. Much of my language was lifted right out of the Bible.
When I woke and remembered it all, I thought, well, this is what I get for reading the prophets all Easter weekend! I had read portions of Daniel, Isaiah, and others that had been lectionary portions for Good Friday and Easter Sunday.
I love the prophets. It has taken me a long time to understand how to read them (I think of them as kind of a Greek chorus that articulates the high tragic drama of human sin in the Old Testament — all the action happens and they comment on it, but are also part of the action) and even longer to appreciate them. I’m sorry our UU tradition doesn’t do much to introduce them to our worshiping communities. We talk all the time about our “prophetic tradition” and the “prophethood of all believers” but many of our folks have no idea or interest in Jeremiah, Isaiah, Hosea, or Ezekiel. They don’t even know that the beloved hymn, “We’ll Build A Land” is from Isaiah.
Well, anyway. I savor my prophetic dream. In it, I could see and comprehend both the horror and the sin that corrupted the world and the sense of delight and denial that permeated the community that was enjoying it. I was afflicted with the call to wail, rage and lament at a wedding, just like the prophets of the Bible. Even though it made me really unpopular with all the guests, I could not remain silent. I felt simultaneously out of control and totally grounded.
It’s a dream that has helped me feel like I can understand “my boys” a little bit better. Remembering the intense feelings and sense of urgency that was with me in my dream humanizes them for me.
Kind of cool.
*In waking life, I think the news of a 47 year woman old marrying a 16 year old boy would strike me as just really weird and super inappropriate, but not provoke streams of doom and gloom prophecies from my mouth. There is obviously some deep symbolic meaning about the “old bride” and the “child groom.” An interesting twist on “new wine into old wine skins?” Or wasting wisdom on children? Or something about the nations of Israel and India? Who knows?