Goodbye, Christopher Robin
Sunday, May 13, 2018
From John 17
Jesus prayed with his disciples, “I do not ask that you take them out of the world but that you keep them from the evil one. They do not belong to the world. Consecrate them in the truth. As you sent me, so I send them into the world. And I consecrate myself for them, so that they also may be consecrated in truth.”
When Chris packed his car and backed out of our driveway, Margaret wept. Another year on another lovely spring evening, Andi with her new driver’s license backed out of our driveway, and I wept. On a fine fall day, Marc moved his stuff into a college apartment. We all waved and smiled, and we all felt sad.
Empty nests. Not just for chickens anymore.
Now Jack and Aly are growing up, and once again we feel a little of that same empty nest. And Miles is 18 months old, learning the chops of his own personal terrible two’s, discovering his strengths, gnawing on apples, growing. None of us want to hold on too tight. But it so tempting!
Yesterday morning I thought our baby chicks would be dead, because we left the top of our coop’s Dutch door open all night. We walked out together to see. Margaret counted, “I see one, I see two … they are all there.” The raccoon was somewhere else last night. Our nest is not empty!
Jesus says goodbye to the ones he loves so much. He promises awful, awesome lives for those he leaves. There will be time for everything and every season. There will be time to tear down and time to build, time to mourn and time to dance, time to be silent and time to speak. Time to scatter stones, and time to gather them (Ecclesiastes 3).
Jesus leaves his loved ones and the Holy Spirit fills the room, fills their lives, even fills their mouths. The angel asks those watching, “Why are you standing there looking at the sky?”
Those winds of change, they blow and blow. But Jesus “consecrates us in the truth.” The wind carries us; we can flow with it, in and out, up and down. All of it is holy.
In Urbana, today is Ascension Sunday, UIUC Graduation, and Mother’s Day – an umami day of emotion with plenty of rich weeping, deep satisfaction, wide smiles and honest joy. “I don’t know why you say goodbye; I say hello.”
All our cycles circle round and round and then … jump their orbits. Once we touched hands and skin; now it’s virtual face. Book. New births, little deaths, ascension. All of us are always leaving. And we are all arriving too.
Jesus leaves and the Holy Spirit fills the room.
Joni Mitchell is getting older now, not as healthy as she’d like to be. Fifty years ago she wrote and sang:
Yesterday a child came out to wonder
Caught a dragonfly inside a jar
Fearful when the sky was full of thunder
And tearful at the falling of a star
Then the child moved ten times round the seasons
Skated over ten clear frozen streams
Words like when you’re older must appease him
And promises of someday make his dreams
And the seasons they go round and round
And the painted ponies go up and down
We’re captive on the carousel of time
We can’t return we can only look
Behind from where we came
And go round and round and round
In the circle game.
In my mind I watch Christopher Robin drag his Pooh bear behind him, up the stairs, off to bed. Tomorrow in the Hundred Acre Wood it will be a brand new day. But now they lay right down and rub noses, kiss lips to lips, and Christopher falls asleep. I’m not sure about Pooh. Maybe someone should keep watch. Just to make sure the sun rises.
But Jesus consecrates us in the truth. All is holy. The sun will rise. Go to sleep, you weary, bleary bear.
No, I am not afraid. No, I really can close my eyes. Yes, I hear you Jesus. Yes, I feel your hand on my head, and how gentle it is. Yes, I hear your whisper. There is no hurry here. Our lives are in the palm of your hand. You let me trace your lifeline, Jesus, and track it back to mine. How sweet we are together, in this moment, in this forever, in this fine and everlasting night and day.