Saturday, May 15, 2010

Ascension Day Musing

Often enough on Ascension Day or on its eve - either Thursday, Saturday or Sunday morning - I have woken up to this elation that has not in like manner occurred on any other day but those days (of the Ascension) - though it doesn't happen every year.

It is as though a miracle of deep continuity has happened; a healing; something out of whack has been realigned, beyond what it was before. Not just within me personally, but out there (though the pieces of the broken snake may writhe awhile in death). All the leaves on the trees are balm and seem aware - yes, even the leaves - of a supernatural departure, a supernatural absence that is also a new universal presence. It is what the Church calls Hope.

Frequently icons of the Resurrection depict Christ in an ovate sphere. Then in the ones of the Ascension we see Christ in a full circle. His work has been brought to fulfillment. But the Absentee is now everywhere present.

Unlike the often confused original absences we have in our souls, this absence of the Ascension is joyous because we know what, or more correctly who, was there - not to mention where He went. We are awakened to it almost in the way a person wearing a fine fragrance were to leave a room in a rush, trailing behind the perfume that previously was not so detectable. So as that person leaves, we become more acutely aware of him or her than when he or she was right before us.

Though that is somewhat superficial. Maybe it can be better likened this way: we can sense the perfection of our being, which is Christ, entering and abiding in Heaven (now no longer a distant, hermetically sealed realm) because he has our full humanity, in its perfection; thus in one respect, we are "already there", though we are still here on earth.

As Jesus who is fully man enters into the heavenly court, all that is about man, this created world, gets "minted" in some way with His fulfillment - if in the form of some anticipation that is weightier and richer than what we can physically touch and see. Though not negating our physical world, Heaven is even more physical, as Jesus resurrected takes up His throne at the right hand of the Father.

Imagine that: the perfection of our being, going before us to the Father, the Creator.

Who can fully fathom the beauty of this mystery?

I remember one priest giving a homily on Ascension Day. He talked about this class of students in a wood shop. It was a true story. One of the teachers lost his fine watch somewhere in the shop; and everyone spent a good deal of time looking for this watch. They eventually gave up looking. But as everyone left the shop, one student remained behind.

All the machinery was now shut down and everyone was gone: total silence in that large wood shop. In this silence the very clever student laid himself down flat on his stomach, and lay there for a long time in complete stillness, listening. Attuning his ears to the faintest stirring in the deep silence, he became like a nothing.

And he heard the faintest ticking. He listened longer to the ticking, detecting where it came from. He tracked the sound down, and found the watch.

Ascension is one of the richest joys we can have on this earth: to be happy that Jesus is going to His Father in Heaven; as one priest said: to be happy for Jesus. By being happy for Jesus, we make an intimate connection. It is so simple: you want Jesus to be more real for you? Then treat Him as if He were a real person!

Is one sad when a sibling or friend gets the job or school they were looking for?

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