12 March 2009


**Sorry for the repeat...Blogger published this out of order. No idea why.

Once upon a time, there lived a little girl who wanted to fly. For her whole life, or at least as much of it as she could remember, people had told her she should fly. It was her birthright, they said, and there was no good reason why she shouldn't fly if she just worked hard enough.

The little girl felt so excited when she talked to these people. Her dream seemed within her grasp--all she had to do was become good enough, smart enough, and strong enough, and she would fly away to soar with the birds through the sunset and into morning.

As she grew a little, the girl began to be troubled about her dream. Flying seemed so hard. The sky seemed so far away and she felt so heavy. She looked around her and saw other people, sometimes the same ones who told her she should fly. They had worked really hard, even harder than she was working, and they couldn't fly. How hard must it be, then, to actually rise above the earth?

It seemed too hard to do all on her own, and so the little girl hatched a plan. One night, she took the sheet off her bed and made it into her special flying sheet. Now, she had a real way to fly. Some day, when the wind was just right, when she'd perfected her running and jumping, she would grab all four corners of the sheet, run from one end of her yard to another, jump, and the wind would carry her away.

The girl became obsessed with her plan. During the day, she practiced running and jumping and she stared at the sky, waiting for just the right wind. At night, she dreamed of flying, practicing cartwheels and flips in her dreams.

Slowly, the girl got stronger. She ran faster and jumped higher. She learned to read the wind, so she'd know when hers was coming. Her heart pounded when she thought about how close the day must be, her flying day.

And then, the moment came. The girl felt the wind change and knew she had the strength to run and jump and take off to see the world. She ran inside to get her sheet.

When she came back out, she saw a man standing in her backyard. Though she'd never seen him before, he wasn't a stranger.

"Jesus," she said, "what are you doing here? Have you come to see me fly?"

She felt so excited. Jesus loved her enough to come and watch the thing happen that she'd worked so hard to achieve. He smiled at her, and she smiled back.

"Give me your sheet," he said, still smiling. He raised his hands to take it from her.

Her smile fell off her face.


"Give me your sheet," he said again.

She looked at the sheet in her hands.

"But if I give you this, I can't fly! And I've dreamed of flying all my life. And I've worked so hard," she said.

"Give me your sheet," he said.

The girl didn't know quite what was going on, but she pulled her sheet and held it all in her arms.

"No," she said. "I want to fly."

Jesus let his hands drop and walked toward her. She smiled, sure she'd won. He reached out and touched her sheet. Somehow, she knew he wouldn't just take it, not like that, so she let him.

"Give me your sheet," he said.

"But how will I fly?" she asked.

"Maybe you won't," he said.

"But I've only ever wanted to fly."

"What if there's something better than flying?"

"What do you mean?"

"What if there's something better than flying?"

"There's nothing better than flying."

"Have you seen the world? Have you see what is above and beyond this world? How do you know there's nothing better than flying?"

She pondered for a minute.

"I don't know. But I've always wanted to fly," she said.

"Give me your sheet."

"If I give it to you, will I get one of these better things? Am I trading this sheet for something better?"

"I can't tell you that."

"Why not? I know I can fly, if I run and jump right now. Why would I give you this sheet?"

"Give me your sheet," he said.

The girl didn't know what to do. She loved Jesus, and she thought Jesus loved her. She certainly didn't want to fly away from him. But she wanted to fly.

"Will you fly with me?" she asked.

"Give me your sheet," he said.

His eyes somehow made her not angry, even though she wanted to hate him. She kept looking into them, like she couldn't stop. Slowly, the girl dropped the sheet, all but one little corner. Jesus gathered it up into his arms and moved to take the last bit. She clenched her fingers around it. He tugged, but she held on. Her fingers turned white and ached with the force of her holding, but she couldn't bring herself to let go.

"Give me your sheet," he said.

"But if I give you this, I have nothing. Do you hear me? Nothing!"

He gestured around him.

"What about this?" he asked.

"What about what?"

"All of this."

She looked around her. Everything looked the same as it always had--her house, the yard where she practiced and played, the fences with neighbors' houses on the other side.

She looked back at Jesus.

"I don't want this," she said. "I want to fly."

"But you have this," he said.

"But I want to fly."

"Why do you want to fly?"

"I want to go places and see things. I want to meet important people and talk to them. I want to do all those things that nobody else gets to do. I want to be somebody."

"Who are you here?"

"I'm nobody. I'm like everyone else, like my parents and my brothers and sisters and my friends."

"You're somebody here."


"You're somebody here."

The girl looked around her. She wanted to believe him, but she still wasn't sure. To be somebody here, now, that would really be something. Almost nobody was somebody here. Jesus tugged at the sheet.

"I can't let it go," she said. "I want to fly."

"Do you want to let go?"

She looked at the ground and scrubbed her foot against a tuft of grass.

"Yes," she said. "If I am somebody here, I want to let go. Yes."

He began to pull, harder than he'd pulled before. She found herself pulling back, unable to do anything else and still not entirely willing to let go. He pulled harder and harder, tugging against her. Their tug-of-war felt like an all-out battle.

Finally, Jesus gave one long, last tug, harder than anything he'd done before. The girl felt her hands loosen, her grip suddenly and violently torn. She saw Jesus with the sheet, the whole sheet, and she felt her heart panic.

Before she could even begin to feel the panic, though, she saw Jesus unfurl the sheet. He held it in one hand and let its length whip in the breeze. Then, in a moment that forever after played through her mind in slow motion, he let the sheet go. The wind caught it and carried it up, over their heads, even over the houses.

The girl cried out, once. It felt like her heart was being ripped out. If only...if only she was attached to that sheet, she'd be flying like she always dreamed. Her heart swelled, then drained out in tears down her face.

Before she knew it, she realized Jesus was next to her. In the next second, she was in his arms, crying out her fury at him, to him. It shouldn't have made any sense except it did, and she was crying too hard to think very much.

After a long while, she finished crying. Oh, there might be more tears another day, but she'd cried all she could for that day. She looked up and saw Jesus gazing down at her. His eyes had never lost their gentleness, not even in the midst of that great tug-of-war.

"Why, Jesus," she asked. "Why did you take my sheet?"

"Could I hold you when you were holding that sheet?"

She scrunched up her nose and thought for a minute.

"I guess not," she said.

"That sheet came between you and me," he said, "and I can't ever let anything do that."


christianne said...

Okay, so this broke my heart over and over again. I am that little girl! And Jesus has been asking for my sheet! And I give it over, after a long hard battle, and then my heart oozes out of my eyes in tears. And I want him to hold me, need him to hold me, because him holding me is the only thing that could possibly be better than flying over the world with my sheet.

Thank you, Sarah. This was beautiful and so tender.

The Gyrovague said...

I keep giving him my sheet, and then jumping up and grabbing it. I keep needing longer and longer sticks to grab it out of the air... pretty soon it will be shredded to bits.

Good thing Jesus loves me... if not it would be a mess by now.

thanks for sharing your story.

sojourner said...

well done little girl - to fly or be held by my Beloved - the question comes up frequently for me - it's good to know it's the same with you and others

Sarah said...

You're all so welcome...the story came out of an image I had during my church's worship service on Sunday. And Sojo, I love the way you put it--"to fly or be held by my Beloved"--totally!

Joelle said...

I see it. I feel it. Wow! Such a powerful parable of letting go. Your lyrical story-telling reminds me of Walter Wangerin's work. So good, Sarah! Needs to be in a book!

Anonymous said...

Wow! Wow! This is powerful and it made me cry. I can SOOOO relate to this........if only you knew.

Sarah said...

Joelle-Thanks so much. Who is Walter Wangerin (and should I already know?)?

Tammy-I love you, girl!

heather said...

"You are somebody here."
I love that line. I struggle with that.
Have you thought of writing children's books? Good children's stories are simple and profound, and I think this is one of them.

Anonymous said...

This is one of those, "I just can't get over it sorta blogs!"

I am back over here again. This flows so deeply with Christianne's posts. It is awesome how your hearts flow together like that.

It is amazing really. Jesus is amazing.

L.L. Barkat said...

And from the sheet sometimes he makes a sail...

Sarah said...

Heather--I struggle with that, too. It's so easy to see how I could be somebody somewhere else, but here? And I haven't thought about children's books...don't know the first thing about it, in fact. But now I'm interested ;)

Tammy--Thanks for coming back and letting me know you were here. Isn't it cool how God lets us grow in community and sometimes lets our communities grow together?


kirsten said...

wow, sarah!! this is beautiful. hmmm ... all the things we hang onto instead of Jesus ... all the things we think we need to achieve what we want when what we need most to just to hang onto him. so hard to know what that even means most of the time, but nonetheless true

hmm ... i am tired & fond of ellipsis ...


Sarah said...

Kirsten, I'm always fond of elipses, so no worries (isn't that the plural of "elipsis?" Spellcheck doesn't like it...). We think we need so many things other than him, don't we...crazy.

JoAnn said...

Oh there are so many things I need to let go of....this is so amazingly true and powerful.

Thank you for this post.

L.L. Barkat said...

You're forgiven of course. Blogger made you do it. :)

sojourner said...

More writing please.......

Sarah said...

More to come...much percolates. Clearly, I have made too much coffee this weekend ;)