Past the kitchen and unmade beds, I discovered (felt) the meaning of the mantle. It seems that more life lessons happen for me when the dishes are in the sink and the laundry needs to be folded. Ordinary moments. Because my responsibilities for the day were more than I wanted to handle, I retreated to my prayer closet. I didn’t have much to say. I just wanted to sit for a moment.
Then I saw a picture of an old friend. It was taped to a wall in my quiet place. My old friend, long ago, passed a mantle on to me. In his kitchen (with dishes in the sink), he reminded me of all the times we had shared together in life. All the good conversations we enjoyed about God, faith, mystery and journaling. Then he said, “It’s time for you to take the mantle. I’m too old and too tired.” With a smile and tears rolling down my face, I agreed to receive his gift and commission.
The mantle is a symbolic term for passing on leadership from one person to another. Elisha and Elijah (the great prophets of the Old Testament) set the bar for the mantle.
Elisha picked up the mantle of Elijah that had fallen from him, and went back and stood on the bank of the Jordan. He took the mantle of Elijah that had fallen from him, and struck the water, saying, “Where is the Lord, the God of Elijah?” When he had struck the water, the water was parted to the one side and to the other, and Elisha went over. Kings 2:13-14
I believe that we may be wearing more than one mantle at a time. There are many callings on our lives. Friend, sister, father, teacher, brother, mother, child, mentor, employee, employer, Christian, leader, advocate. I have come to understand there are different phases of the mantle that are always active.
Everyday training takes place. It may feel like carpool, dinner, homework and chaos, but it is really a training ground for the next mantle team. We train up children and teach them about the spiritual life. We teach about Elisha and Elijah and all the other Holy stories. We guide, correct and encourage. We love constantly. We pray, pray, pray that all these moments will grow into another beautiful light for Christ in this world.
The weight of it can truly be felt. The constant call to lead, produce, solve and understand. It calls for creativity and availability. We cast visions. We build teams. We faithfully live out our daily lives in a way that shows respect for the mantle we carry and an understanding that we carry it for a small fragment of time. We pray, pray, pray that our fragment honors and pleases God.
Passing it On
With eyes that see beyond the present moment, we look for who is next. Through a relationship, we prepare the next one. With our words, we share our story. Our successes and mistakes. We bless the them. And we send them out into the world as they cross from one side to the next. We pray, pray, pray for wisdom and joy for the new one(s).
This mantle business is guided and sustained by the Holy Spirit. I wonder where you are in this Holy business? Where can you encourage those in other stages?
From our Happy Tent to Yours,