Somewhere else instead

Halfway down the stairs


is a stair


where i sit.


there isn’t any


other stair


quite like





I’m not at the bottom,


I’m not at the top;


so this is the stair




I always





Halfway up the stairs


Isn’t up


And it isn’t down.


It isn’t in the nursery,


It isn’t in town.


And all sorts of funny thoughts


Run round my head.


It isn’t really




It’s somewhere else





A. A. Milne




I often think of this poem when I am on my way up these stairs to the top floor of offices which house the Cathedral Chapter.  I get half way up and I smile as I think of this poem which I so loved as a child.  Kai tends to stare at me when I stop on the fifth stair as if I may need help.



The poem crosses so many boundaries.  It is  at once a description on quantum electron states in physics but also of Buddhist mindfulness, the Anglican middle way and the Christian call to be in the world and yet not of the world. It is an icon for me of that place of detachment in which we hold onto things and places, people and money lightly, just allowing life to unfold while aware that we can use our resources to make change.



Being somewhere else instead is a Christian virtue and is the molten center of meditation.  It says that understanding that what appears to be is not the whole story and that God is working behind what can be seen in a constant act of co-creativity and creation. The cosmos is unfolding.  The Heaven and Hell we like to think is way out there, in a future state of time – places of clouds and sulfur – is much more likely to be happening in this very life but in response to our actions.  The Hell I create for a child in the Sudan because I waste food and use up resources is a Hell I have created somewhere else instead.  The kindness I offer to a friend in Idaho who realizes how kindness is magnified and who responds by reducing their fear and then writing a check to Episcopal Relief and Development for work in the Sudan to dig wells for a village…is making a bit of heaven somewhere else instead.



Stewardship is not about caring for our money.  It is not even about caring for our time, talent and treasure. Stewardship is about noticing what exists and what effects changes which reduce hell and swell heaven somewhere else instead.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.