*The company of prophets who were in Bethel came out to Elisha, and said to him, "Do you know that today the Lord will take your master away from you?"*
*And he said, "Yes, I know; keep silent." Elijah said to him, "Elisha, stay here; for the Lord has sent me to Jericho."*
*But Elisha said, "As the Lord lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you."*
2 Kings 2
On the farm where I grew up, there was a high point of land at the northern edge of our property. It was too steep to be worth much for farming, but we went there often. We called it “The Top of the World.” It wasn’t, of course, but the view was amazing. We went for picnics, or just made it a stopping point on a long walk. Way up there, I always felt both stronger and smaller than I felt down below. I never wanted to leave when the campfire faded to ashes. While I couldn’t have put such words to it then, I felt closer to God there than down below, where the chores and daily grind happened.
Living our spiritual life strikes me as a pretty delicate dance. Most of us want – yes, need - those peak experiences where God’s glory washes over us. We feel both peacefully at one with Creation and strangely aching about our tiny inability to grasp the fullness of that moment. Yet we also know that we have to depart from that place and do the real work of being the caretakers of Creation; a Creation that looks perfect from above, but can look pretty broken down in the trenches. A picnic at the top of the world is a good place to linger.
The tender story of Elijah passing the mantle of prophetic responsibility to Elisha is filled with the ache of not wanting to let go. Both know it’s time to part, but Elisha holds tightly to the moment. He seems to be saying, “Please; one more time of sharing bread and words at the mountaintop with my beloved teacher. One more holy moment, and could you maybe make it last forever?”
I’m never quite sure how to shape a time of worship to make it a time both to feel that sweet awe of and for God, and, as well, a time to comment on the To-Do List. As Brian Erikson, a Biblical commentator, says, “God does not gather us together just for a divine fireworks display; God always has something to say, usually something to ask…”
So we sing; we pray; we listen; we see God’s glory in the face of each person present. We depart, if not overwhelmed, then at least whelmed. And we hope to hold the glory of that time in our hearts. Maybe we even remember that song we sang; we whistle it while we work. It still echoes in our souls, reminding us of the great glory of our labor.
Come with your aches, your glories, and your own To-Do Lists. The list looks more manageable when we share the tasks – and sing together of the mystery. We worship at 10 AM.