Image: Historic Oblate mission house, Paulatuk
During our life we undergo many transitions. Each time we reach a new stage in life we do so with a mixture of emotions that range from excitement about new possibilities to utter fear about what lay ahead. There is pride in what we have been able to accomplish but also grief in what we have to leave behind.
In today’s first reading we see the passing of the mantle from the Prophet Elijah to his apprentice Elisha, as Elijah prepares to return to God. As the two set of off on their final journey together there is a great deal to glean from what takes place between them.
Elisha’s first response is that he does not want to leave Elijah’s side. He has come to rely a great deal on this old man. He will miss his company but perhaps even more he will miss his protection. It is wonderful to grow and learn in a safe environment but now Elisha realizes that he is about to be thrown out into the world like a baby bird from its mother’s nest.
The leaving is also not easy for Elijah. Up until the moment he goes, his concern for his young prodigy is evident. He has shared all his knowledge and experience yet, still, even in the final moment he asks, “what more can I do for you”. It is difficult to tell if this is just affection and generosity on his part or perhaps, he departs with a concern for Elisha about whether he is ready, and whether he can really leave all that he has worked for in the hands of this youngster.
Whether it is a child leaving home for the first time, watching our children getting married and starting their own families or perhaps our own retirement and the realization that we are entering the autumn years of our life, each new phase requires us to discern again what it is that God is asking of us.
We may be asked to be courageous and to take a chance on new responsibilities even if we do not feel that we have all the experience that we would like. Or we might be asked to step back out of the limelight in order to let new leaders come forward. If we discern well God’s will, we come to realize that each stage of our life brings its own meaning, its own purpose whether it is sharing newly developed talents or imparting well earned wisdom with the next generation.
Ultimately our transitions are inevitable and the only thing we can control is if we move well from one moment of our life to the next or whether we go kicking and screaming. If we allow God into the process, we will receive what we need, not to make it easy, but to make it a time of Grace.
As Elisha returns from saying good-bye to his mentor, he comes back again to the banks of the Jordan river. On his way he followed in the footsteps of his teacher as they passed through the waters which moved aside at Elijah’s bidding. Now Elisha raises the mantle that has been passed to him and the waters obey his word and part again. With this sign Elisha knows that God is with him and that he can share God’s word with confidence as Elijah has taught him.
Trust in God who will give you what you need. Trust in the Lord who will never leave your side.