Charles Xavier: “This is what life looks like, people who love each other, a home. You should take a moment, feel it. You still have time.” (Logan, 2017)
Yesterday I had lunch with friends from a very special period of my life, many of whom I have not met for 40 years. I studied dentistry in the University of Singapore from 1974 till 1978. I remember two things about those years, my struggle with dental studies, and the joy I experienced living at the King Edward VII Hall (KE Hall) — a residential college for medical and dental students, that also housed pharmacy and engineering undergrads.
Life in KE Hall was special to me for many reasons. I sang in the band (The Keviians), took part in a play (The Importance of Being Earnest), and was a member of the Junior Common Room Committee. I was part of the team that won the Inter-hostel Debates. (The others in that wining team were the Wong brothers, Mark and John, and Subramaniam, now the Malaysian health minister.)
Above all, it was the people. Undergraduate life was probably the last time in our lives we had more time to build friendships. I will never forget the many good people I was privileged to connect with as we journeyed through university life. It was a life that began with some harmless hazing during orientation. I recall that I was ‘baptised’ (by immersion) in a bathtub filled with water, soap suds, beer, and, I suspect, various bodily fluids, to be born again as a Keviian.
I am sure we all grieved a little when we graduated and had to leave KE Hall. We all went our separate ways. I kept in touch with a few but lost touch with many. 40 years have passed; but thanks to Facebook and Whatsapp, we began to reconnect with friends of long ago. Yesterday’s lunch was the fruit of one such reconnection.
There was much joy at the table. Of course we reminded ourselves of the special times we shared when we were in KE. Feelings of friendship and camaraderie, long dormant, flowered with a vengeance. There were also some sad moments when we mentioned friends who had passed away and would not join us at the table again.
The dim sum was great, but we feasted on friendship and memories. In our 60s’ now, we are no longer consumed with career and raising young children, and our hearts can once again attend to our need to connect with friends. I was deeply moved by the time together at lunch, and I suspect so were many of the others around the table. We plan to do this once a month.
Perhaps we can now understand why a common metaphor of our life-after-this-life, is a meal. Jesus said:
“And I confer on you a kingdom, just as my Father conferred one on me, so that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” (Luke 22: 29–30 NIV)
Heaven will be this super reunion feast with Jesus as host. All happy reunion dinners this side of heaven are reminders of that final reunion that awaits those who are friends of Christ. And death will no longer be the spoilsport that prevents people from coming to the meal, because by then death will be dead (Revelation 20:14).
I look forward to my next meal with this group of friends. Perhaps I can convince some of them to join me at Jesus’s reunion dinner.