The story so far:
A creak of wooden floor woke her. She struggled up from a deep sleep, her mind muddled, eyes blurry and looked around the dark bedroom. She lay perfectly still, concentrating on her sense of hearing. There were no more sounds. She couldn’t feelanyone in the room and she certainly couldn’t see anything. She glanced at her bedside clock, the digital numerals glowed, but not enough to provide light farther than a foot or two around the clock. She noticed that the clock read 3:00 AM.
After a couple of minutes of complete silence, she mentally shrugged, deciding the noise that awoke her was no more than the settling of her very old apartment building and drifted back to sleep and a dream.
* * * * *
She was walking along a sandy beach. To her right was a sea and up ahead she could see Jesus talking to two men; fishermen, she decided. They were standing in front of a small boat with a single sail, gently rocking in the low breakers. She stopped and turned a circle, looking at her surroundings in all directions.
From the sea, the land changed from beach to sandy foothills that continued to rise until they became low, tree covered hills. In the opposite direction of the fishermen and Jesus, the beach ran along for several hundred meters before slowing arcing to the right.
Beth knew that she was dreaming, but just as she knew she was seeing Jesus, she also recognized this as a place she’d been before – the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee. She looked back toward the group of men and walked toward them.
As she approached them she saw that the one she’d thought was Jesus looked like the man that had been in her classroom and the Market Square. The “Jesus Lives” T-shirt was gone, as were the jeans. Now, he wore a white robe, buffeted by a gentle breeze.
The fishermen were similarly dressed, but their robes were stained with the effects of their labor. She glanced down at her own clothing and saw that she also wore robes – gray in color – and sandals. She could smell the air coming off the sea; she heard the wind and the voices of the men, but not well enough to determine what they were saying. She walked closer until they stopped talking and turned to face her.
The man from her classroom smiled a greeting. “Welcome, Beth,” he said. “May I introduce Andrew?”
He indicated the shorter of the two men who nodded his own greeting. Jesus placed his hand upon the shoulder of the taller fisherman, “And this is Simon.”
His countenance stern, Simon made no acknowledgment of the introduction. Beth smiled at him, anyway, but thought, ‘he doesn’t like me…no, women…he doesn’t like women…just as many of my colleagues have suspected.’
She looked at the man from her classroom, “And you are…Jesus?”
His smile grew wider. His piercing but gentle blue eyes held her captive. “Yes, but you knew that already.”
“I wasn’t completely sure. I’m dreaming and one can never be sure about dreams.”
Jesus reached for her hand. “Dreams are a visual representation of the subconscious mind…the soul.”
He paused and looked at Andrew and Simon. Beth knew that they were all speaking Aramaic, the language most commonly spoken in this area during Jesus’ lifetime, but she was hearing English in the dream. The brothers, however, looked as if Jesus were speaking a totally different language. Had the sentence actually been spoken, only to her, in English?
She didn’t understand it, but she had an incredible urge to ask Jesus questions about this dream scene as it was depicted in the Bible. Even as it happened, she was aware of her conscious mind observing what her subconscious dreamed.
“This is where you take Andrew and Simon as your disciples, isn’t it?”
Jesus raised his eyebrows and smiled, “So it has been written.”
Beth looked around. Simon and Andrew had apparently lost interest in her. They had moved away a few steps and were quietly conversing among themselves. Looking back, she asked, “Have you already told Simon that he would have a new name, Cephas – the Rock, and that on that rock you would build your church?”
His face serious, his eyes boring into hers, he replied, “No. I never said that.”
She expected that answer; why, she had no idea. She knew that the Bible was not entirely accurate, but…. “Have you told them to follow you and that you would make them fisher’s of men?”
This time, Jesus’ response was merely a slow, sad shaking of his head.
Beth laughed. She couldn’t stop laughing. Through the tears in her eyes she saw Jesus smiling at her and she knew he was real and that he was telling her the truth.
* * * * *
Beth awoke. She was no longer on the beach talking to Jesus about Bible verses. What was the implication of Jesus saying “so it has been written”? Did he mean this literally or had he alluded that those verses were not based on actual events? He’d flatly denied the verse about building his church on the Rock of Cephas. He’d shaken his head – no, when asked about the “fisher’s of men” verse.
Thinking back, Beth recalled debates she’d had with other scholars about New Testament Bible verses. She remembered her amazement at her colleagues’ emphatic and often ridiculously transparent explanations designed to counter her misgivings about the accuracy and validity of the gospels.
Maybe I’m putting my own suspicions in the mouth of the man I saw today and dreaming him up to be Jesus? She turned to check her alarm clock. The glowing numerals read 3:30 AM. She remembered last checking her clock thirty minutes ago. That was a long dream, she thought.
She got out of bed and padded to the kitchen for a glass of water. She went to the bathroom, washed her hands and returned to her bed. She snuggled under the covers, her mind pushing away the dream, and closed her eyes.
A draft of cool air drifted from the open window through the bedroom. She heard a shuffling noise across the wooden floor near her bed. She half opened her eyes to see the figure of a man next to her bed. He was kneeling, silhouetted by the full moon that had risen to a point where it shined directly through her bedroom window. She knew immediately who it was, even though she could not see him clearly.
Strangely, she felt no fear. She had no urge to jump from her bed, screaming and running for help. She lay still, watching – waiting for him to speak.
In a voice that was soft, little more than a whisper, he said, “There is no fear in you. That is good. I wish you no harm. Instead, I bring you a message.”
“I dreamed of you, just now.” She could see him nod his head. He knew that? “Who are you…really…who are you?”
“I am he whom you believe me to be.”
Beth wasn’t sure who she believed him to be, but she let that go for the moment. “Why are you here, why me?”
“You are very special, Beth. I would ask something of you.”
She shook her head. “I don’t under….”
“On Saturday, near the end of the afternoon Mass, I will be at the Kölner Dom. When you go to Cologne and visit the Dome you will meet a man. His name is Jack Schmidt…”
He knows I’m planning a trip to the Dom? How could he…who is Jack Schmidt? He was still talking. She heard him, but at the time her confused mind wasn’t translating until he said, “All will be answered in due time.”
Beth closed her eyes. This is another dream. Isn’t it? She opened her eyes. “I…” she began, but she was talking to an empty room.