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.