"Once a king or queen of Narnia, always a king or queen of Narnia."
― C.S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

Hi all,

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.

God bless,

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 him. 

"Never mind them, boy."

Yeshua looked up to see Isaaq, one of the village beggars.  "I thought they were my friends," he murmured.

"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 learning.


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, please."

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 questioned.

"He was away.  His father had died and he had gone to bury him."

Yeshua clenched his eyes shut.  "How do you know this, Ama?"

"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 hair. 

"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?"

"Yes, Yeshu?"

"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 family. 

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 dark curls.

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 had gained.


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 hearing about.

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 house. 

"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 helplessly.

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 death came.


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 their embrace.


34 AD

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 towards them.

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 teenager.

"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 his. 

"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 embrace.

Isaaq's heart was so filled with happiness that he could only laugh as Yeshua led him and his family into Paradise.

The End

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 come, too. 


JABB 418