I was just watching the steam rise and dance around the rim of my coffee cup. That means my coffee is hot and my bedroom is cold. A bird just flew past outside my window with nothing to hold it up but the air and reminds me of the marvel of airplane travel. This morning’s gospel (JN 6:16-21) has the disciples in a boat – a familiar theme – and says that “the sea was stirred up because a strong wind was blowing.” Occasionally it seems that those fishermen who could probably read the weather well in most cases were surprised by sudden winds – not unlike the tornadoes that have devastated whole towns in our country recently. All of these meandering thoughts remind me that there’s more to life than meets the eye and sometimes we’re called to believe in what we are unable to see or understand.
Next weekend I’m leading a 24-hour retreat based on four of the post-resurrection appearances of Jesus so I’m wondering what it must’ve been like for Mary Magdalene in the garden, the disciples in the Upper Room, the two travelers on the road to Emmaus and Peter and friends on the beach where Jesus fixed them breakfast. Jesus appears in substantial ways (“in the flesh”) but walks through walls or disappears when recognized, so he is obviously different while seeming the same. (Thomas could certainly attest to this fact.) What are we to make of these stories? Is the point to reassure those he visits that all is well? If so, his messages to Mary Magdalene (“Don’t cling to me!”) and Peter (“When you’re old, you’ll be led down ways you would rather not go…”) were certainly lacking in encouragement. It does seem rather that Christ is trying to tell those left behind that now the ministry is theirs. He has done what he came to do and now they must carry on. They have everything they need – all that he taught them and the example that he gave. The work will be to remember the lessons and to look for him in places outside of the norm – the “thin places,” the Celts would say. Listening for him in the wind and catching his look in the faces of those to whom we serve breakfast in a homeless shelter, hearing his voice in the garden we are weeding or on our morning walk…these are the moments of encounter that cannot be predicted.
So today is a new beginning. The steam is gone as I take the last gulp of my coffee but I remember the way it swirled around the rim calling me to consciousness and possibility in this day. Being alive and trusting that Christ lives in me as my deepest self is enough for me. What about you?