A Little While

a poetic reflection on John 16:16: “A little while, and you will no longer see me, and again a little while, and you will see me.”

Sometimes, it seems, 

“A little while”

is one of the last vagaries of time

that steadfastly refuses

to be boxed into a specific chronological window.


When I was young,

I’d be told supper would be in a little while.

In a little while,

I’d be old enough to drive.

Ten minutes?  Or ten years?

It made no sense.

Not to mention “a little while”

never ever felt like a little while

when I was a kid…

It always felt like forever

and a little while

never passed quickly enough.


So I totally understand

the disciples’ confusion.

“Does Jesus pop in and pop out

like a favorite cousin?”

“Do we have to go look for him?”

“Are we supposed to stay together for this,

or are we to move on with our lives?”



Despite my own lack of understanding of “a little while,”

I pass the same thing off on my dogs

when I put them in their kennels

and I need to go to town.

“I’ll only be gone a little while.”

“You play with your toys

in your lil’ den for a little while,

And I’ll be back before you know it.”

I suppose I’m leaning into

the tidbit that I’ve always heard

that dogs have little ability to perceive 

short term versus long term.

When it comes 

to canine chronologic comprehension,

being gone for three minutes

or three hours

is the same to them.



I also recall something else

I always say to them

as I head out the door…

“I’ll be back.

I always come back.”


I was thinking the other day

about some of the changes in my own body…

The fatigue that sets in more quickly.

The spongy skin on my once-evenly-tanned forearms

that is now mottled, focally depigmented,

and getting as thin as tracing paper.

The sleep that used to be deep and sound

for seven or eight hours solid,

the kind where I awoke refreshed–

that somewhere, imperceptibly,

turned into no more than four hours at a stretch–

before urgently staggering into

the bathroom, half asleep.


Sure…I may well have decades more…

but it is becoming more and more apparent

that I have entered into “in a little while” time

when it comes to seeing Jesus.


And so I simply enjoy the breeze

and play with the dogs

and continue to work a bit in two vocations

a little more than I ought to,

but not nearly as much as I used to,

breathe in the spring night air,

my bottom in the lawn chair,

my feet on the yard table,

my ears half listening to Cardinal Baseball,

and half listening to the unmated male mockingbirds

in the tree across the driveway.

And you know, it’s odd…

I never fret about the time

the way I did as a kid

about “in a little while”,

because I hear the soft voice

in the wind saying,

“Don’t worry.  I’ll be back.

I always come back.”

Maria Evans splits her week between being a pathologist and laboratory director in Kirksville, MO, and gratefully serving in the Episcopal Diocese of Missouri , as Interim Priest at Trinity Episcopal Church in Hannibal, MO. 

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