(With an apology to those who have not read Winnie-the-Pooh.)
In 1996, Christopher Robin Milne, the only child of the author AA Milne, died. He was immortalized by his father in the stories of Winnie-the-Poo as the character Christopher Robin. On hearing the news, the poet Czeslaw Milosz wrote a piece about Christopher Robin from the perspective of Pooh Bear who was thinking about ‘matters too difficult for a bear of little brain.’ Christopher Robin had momentarily disappeared from the Hundred Acre Wood, so Pooh questions him when he comes back. Christopher Robin tells Pooh he had fallen into the well, and, as he fell deeper, he grew into to an adult, became very old, and finally died. Then he was back in the woods again with his friends, and he explains to Pooh:
It was probably just a dream, quite unreal. The only real thing was you, old bear, and our shared fun. Now I won’t go anywhere, even if I’m called for an afternoon snack.
What a lovely picture of heaven – after this very short life we live, it’s like returning to old friends as Christopher Robin did with Pooh Bear, Piglet and Eeyore in the Hundred Acre Woods. Czeslaw Milosz, who went through the horrors of the Second World War, often imagined heaven as a return to an idyllic childhood, a winding back of the pain and ruptures of adulthood to the innocence and carefree delight of childhood. It reminds me of Jesus’ words in Matthew 18:
I’m telling you, once and for all, that unless you return to square one and start over like children, you’re not even going to get a look at the kingdom, let alone get in. Whoever becomes simple and elemental again, like this child, will rank high in God’s kingdom. What’s more, when you receive the childlike on my account, it’s the same as receiving me.
Jesus, my friend, is inviting me to take time to relax and share in his friendship with an innocent and carefree delight! May you, too, find space this week to relax and share a childlike delight in your friendship with Jesus.
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