|"Once a king or
queen of Narnia, always a king or queen of
― C.S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch and the
When I sat down to start to put this together last week, I
realized it was JABB 417. That seemed significant to
me but I couldn't quite figure out why. And then it
hit me. This is our 100th newsletter since John Dye
passed away. I can remember, when I sat down to put
together JABB 318, wondering if we'd make it for more than
another few newsletters. Here we are... 100
later. I think that's a real testament to how much
John's work continues to inspire and draw people in.
Here's to 100 more! I think... ; -)
Since we average around 28-30 newsletters a year that
would mean committing myself for another 3 plus
years. So... not entirely sure about that but, then
again, I would have thought someone was straight-up crazy
if they'd told me I'd be doing this for ten plus
years. I have quite the track record of being very
bad at predicting JABB's longevity. So... for
however long these newsletters keep up... may they
continue to be fun and, hopefully, serve as a reminder
that God loves us all very much.
Shortly after that realization, I discovered that since
August 24th (Charles Rocket's birthday) falls on an
off-week for JABB then that meant this newsletter should
also be a tribute to him. Those are always
bittersweet for me to write and, combined with the above,
I wasn't sure what to do at all.
And then last Monday happened. Like so many of you,
I was shocked and saddened by Robin Williams' untimely
death. My thoughts and prayers are with his family,
friends, and all of those whose lives he touched... which,
frankly, seems like everyone.
Starting around my
early teen years, when I would get sad or upset, I would
generally do one of the following:
- Watch Touched by an Angel
- Watch a Jesus movie (preferably Godspell)
- And if things were really bad... watch The Birdcage
They kept me amused, reassured, and (relatively) calm
during times of trouble. I will forever be grateful
to the three actors I cited above and will always remember
the inspiration I took and continue to take from their
work. It's just a little hard, right now, to turn to
two of those three things. I know I will in
time. Just as it wasn't long after Charles Rocket
and John Dye went Home that I started watching their
episodes of Touched again, I know that soon I'll
probably find myself wanting to revisit Armand or John
Keating or Mrs. Doubtfire or Peter Pan or the Genie.
But, for right now, it's a variation on that middle option
that I feel like I need to go with. So I hope you
enjoy the following story dedicated to all those who bring
us laughter and joy.
PS- There is no easter egg in this one.
Note: While I was never able to ascertain which causes Mr.
Rocket supported, I've read several accounts of both John
Dye and Robin Williams striving to make a difference in the
lives of the homeless. From that came Isaaq.
Child of Laughter
Circa 4 AD
Yeshua sat beneath a tree near the village square, watching
the other boys his age as they played. Only a week
before, two brothers, Baruch and Boaz, had happily played
with him. Now they would have nothing to do with
"Never mind them, boy."
Yeshua looked up to see Isaaq, one of the village
beggars. "I thought they were my friends," he
"It is their loss," the man replied.
"They think my Ama did something bad." Yeshua's face
flushed. "My Ama has never done anything bad!"
Isaaq took a seat beside the boy and patted his
shoulder. "I know." He saw the tears pooling in
the child's eyes. "Watch this." The beggar drew
three small rocks from his pocket.
Yeshua watched with amusement as Isaaq tossed the rocks from
hand to hand, throwing them higher and higher into the air
but always catching them. He laughed. "How do
you do that?"
Isaaq's eyes twinkled. "Very carefully."
"Could I do that?" Yeshua glanced back over at the
boys playing before returning his attention to Isaaq.
"Could you teach me? Please?"
Sensing the boy's longing and eager to give him some joy,
Isaaq nodded. "Perhaps start only with two
first." He placed a stone in each of the child's
hands. "And keep your hands out, away from your face
in case you miss."
"I will try not to miss," Yeshua replied very seriously.
Isaaq laughed. "You will miss, Yeshua. When you
do, pick the stone back up and keep going." He looked
around and, spying another stone, picked it up and began to
demonstrate, very slowly, how to juggle the two stones.
Though it took him some time, soon Yeshua was able to mimic
Isaaq. For several minutes, long after the other
children had tired of their game, the little boy remained
enchanted and amused by his friend and the new skill he was
Circa 10 A.D.
As the years wore on and it became obvious that Yosef and
his family were permanently staying in Nazareth, the taunts
and whisperings quieted. Braving the occasional
slight, Yeshua found playmates among the other
children. However, his allegiance to Isaaq
remained. Even as he spent increasingly more and more
time with his Abi, learning to master their trade, Yeshua
made time for his friend.
"Well done, Yeshu. Your best piece yet," Yosef
complimented one afternoon as he took in the feed trough his
son had just finished. Though plain as a feed trough
should be, its legs were level and its edges smooth.
Yeshua truly was learning and swiftly. Yosef had to
fight a stubborn tear that wanted to fall as he thought of
how the boy beside him had once been tiny enough to fit
inside just such a manger. Sighing, he clapped Yeshua
on the back. "Go see your Ama and then..."
"Then can I go visit Isaaq?"
Yosef nodded. "Yes. Give him my best."
"I will!" Yeshua promised as he hurried out of the shop and
went to find his mother.
Maryam had just finished baking when her son ran to her and
wrapped his arms around her. Maryam smiled and kissed
his hair. "Off to visit Isaaq?"
Yeshua nodded. "Abi said I could."
"I have some bread for him. Wait just a moment,
Yeshua released his mother. "Ama?"
"Why does Isaaq not have a home? I asked him once but
he only asked me to tell him about Egypt."
Maryam frowned. She finished wrapping a loaf of bread
in some cloth then held her hand out to Yeshua. "Come
sit with me for a moment?"
Curious, Yeshua nodded and took a seat beside his Ama.
"Yeshu, Isaaq had a home once, in another village. He
lived there with his wife and their four children, two
little boys and two little girls."
Yeshua bowed his head and stared down at his hands.
"What happened to them, Ama?"
Tears began to trail down Maryam's cheeks. "The Romans
came. There were three men in the village who had
killed some soldiers. As punishment, the Romans killed
everyone there... including Isaaq's family."
Yeshua wept silently for a few moments. "A-and Isaaq?"
"He was away. His father had died and he had gone to
Yeshua clenched his eyes shut. "How do you know this,
"Your Abi and I found Isaaq when we were headed to
Egypt. He was so sick, Yeshu. We could not leave
him. So he traveled with us. One night, we woke
to find that you were gone. Then, in the moonlight, we
saw that Isaaq had you in his arms. We were
terrified! We ran to him, intent on taking you from
him. Our fears increased when we saw that he was
weeping. Then Isaaq saw Abi and me and gently handed
you back to us. You were, of course, unharmed.
That is when he told us his story... and how you reminded
him of his children. When he was finished, we told him
our story." Maryam smiled gently and stroked the boy's
"About the angels?"
Maryam nodded. "And about how you came to us."
"And about how God is my Abba?"
"Did he believe?"
"He was very quiet. I think he did."
Yeshua contemplated this. He wondered if it was why
Isaaq had always seemed immune the village gossip about
them. "How did he come to Nazareth? He was not
in Egypt with us."
"He was still very weak, Yeshu. He had not eaten much
after he lost his family. Yosef and I feared he would
not survive the journey. But God was watching out for
him. The next day, we met a caravan traveling to
Nazareth. We gave Isaaq your grandparents' names and
he returned here with the caravan. We were so pleased
when we returned and found him here still."
Yeshua smiled, feeling very proud of his parents and
grandparents. Then he became troubled. "But why
did no one help him find a home?"
Maryam gathered him to her. "My own, we tried.
But he could not make a home without his family. This
is why you must never think or speak harshly of those who do
not have a home. We never know what has brought them
to that place."
Yeshua nodded against her shoulder. "Yes, Ama."
He remained in her arms for another few moments before
retrieving the bread from the table. He turned back to
his mother. "Ama?"
"Will Isaaq be upset that I know?"
Maryam shook her head. "No. He told Abi and I to
tell you when we thought you were ready. You
are. But he still does not speak of it."
"I will not ask questions," Yeshua vowed.
Maryam squeezed his hand. "I know. Go now.
Give Isaaq my love."
"Yes, Ama." With a smile, Yeshua kissed her cheek and,
with the bread tucked under his arm, he fled the house and
went in search of his friend.
Yeshua found Isaaq in a grove of olive trees, talking to
himself. Rather, for the first time, Yeshua realized
the man wasn't talking to himself at all. He could
pick out names: two masculine, three feminine. Isaaq's
Quietly, Yeshua approached him.
Spotting the boy, Isaaq stopped speaking. "Yeshua," he
greeted. "My favorite visitor!"
Yeshua embraced him.
Isaaq's eyes clouded. "Ah..." He
whispered. The boy knew. He patted his mass of
Yeshua remained at the man's side as he wept with grief for
the family he had lost and with gratitude for the family he
Circa 16 AD
In the years following the family's visit to the temple in
Jerusalem, Yeshua became increasingly aware of his place in
the world and the reason he had been born into it.
When troubled by his concerns for the future, Yeshua often
turned to Isaaq to lighten his mood. The man's uncanny
mimicking of Yoktan could have Yeshua laughing for minutes
on end. Isaaq's shrewd commentary on the public piety
and private carelessness of some in the village made Yeshua
chuckle even as he strove to make sense of the
disconnect. There were periods of time when Isaaq
would disappear but always he would return with wild tales
of adventures that Yeshua doubted but still treasured
One day, shortly after Isaaq had returned from his latest
journey, Yeshua went searching for him. His stomach
lurched when he found the aged man slumped against a boulder
and staring straight ahead. His breathing was labored
and sweat poured down his face.
"Isaaq!" Yeshua cried, kneeling beside him.
Isaaq forced a smile. "Yeshua.. my little
friend... No... not so little any more." He
reached towards him with a shaking hand and patted his
cheek. "I am going, Yeshua... Messiah. One
day... one day you will come find me, yes?"
Yeshua nodded with a trembling smile. "Y-yes.
Isaaq, I... I am taking you home now."
Isaaq nodded wearily before his head rolled to the side and
he lost consciousness.
Mustering all the strength he had, Yeshua pulled the man
into his arms and ran as fast as he could back to his
"Ama! Abi!" he shouted when still several yards away.
Maryam and Yosef glanced out the door and, seeing their son,
hurried to him. After glimpsing Isaaq, Maryam ran back
to the house to prepare while Yosef helped Yeshua carry the
man inside. They placed Isaaq on Yeshua's cot.
"Lately he... he seemed not to be feeling well and kept
rubbing at his side but he insisted he was... was
fine. Only tired from his travels," Yeshua explained
Yosef hugged his boy. "There is nothing you could have
done, Yeshu." He tightened his embrace.
Maryam placed a cool cloth on Isaaq's forehead then turned
to her husband and son. "We will make him comfortable,
pray for him, be with him until it is time." She
stroked her son's back.
Yeshua sobbed, recognizing the same ritual they had enacted
in his grandparents' last days. He nodded and sat down
beside the cot, determined to wait with his friend until
Shortly after sunrise, with Maryam, Yosef, and Yeshua
gathered around him, Isaaq drew his last breath.
As they prepared his body for burial, they found, tucked
into his robe, all that remained of Isaaq's worldly
possessions: three stones.
After the burial, Yeshua clasped the stones in his hands
and, through his tears, smiled as he remembered the friend
who had brought him joy and laughter in his times of
loneliness and confusion. He remembered, too, Isaaq's
final words... his final gift: belief.
"He asked me to come find him... one day," he whispered.
Maryam and Yosef looked at each other, knowing then that
Isaaq had believed all along.
"I will," Yeshua intoned before his parents caught him up in
Isaaq sat in a pleasant field of flowers with four children
clustered around him. Nearby, a woman looked on and
smiled as she weaved.
Isaaq began to toss three stones into the air. The
children squealed with delight as the stones flew higher and
higher with their father catching them each time.
Then he spotted someone in the distance, a man walking
Isaaq caught all of the stones and set them on the ground as
he studied the man. Something about his stride and the
way he carried himself seemed so familiar...
Then the man laughed.
In the depths of the man's rich laughter, Isaaq
heard the giggles of a four year old and the chuckling of a
"Yeshua..." Isaaq whispered. He turned back to his
wife and children and saw that they were waving him
on. He set off at a run then halted when he was still
several feet away. Tears stung his eyes.
There were holes in Yeshua's wrists and feet.
"Yeshua..." Isaaq repeated sorrowfully.
Yeshua hastened to his old friend and took his hands in
"Crucified..." the former beggar murmured.
Yeshua nodded. "Three days ago. But today...
today I picked the stone up and I kept going." He
grinned then pulled Isaaq into a hug. "Now I have
found you and your family. It is time to go Home,
Isaaq... to my Father's House. Our House." He
waved to the rest of the family and caught them up in his
Isaaq's heart was so filled with happiness that he could
only laugh as Yeshua led him and his family into Paradise.
Just to reiterate what I said above, this newsletter is
dedicated to those who bring laughter and joy to
others. In particular, I'd like to dedicate it to John
Dye, Charles Rocket, and Robin Williams for helping me to
think of the big questions in life and about the Life to