You Reading This, Be Ready
One of the wonderful and puzzling things about the Ascension is that it’s about both heaven and earth, at the same time. Both rising up and looking down.
We don’t want to ignore the fact that Jesus rises up into heaven, that he is taken into another, higher real. We don’t want to empty that moment of its mystery or flatten it out, because heaven is our destination, too, and this moment is not the only moment and time isn’t linear anyway. This is a big deal. We should all be looking up.
And yet at the same time the angels come up to the disciples and ask them, “why are you looking up in the sky,” as in, “why do you have your head in the clouds,” why aren’t you paying attention to the here and now, because every moment is eternal, every moment is sacred, and time isn’t linear anyway? In Christ everything comes together, is fused and opened up. At the same time.
As soon as Jesus disappears from sight he fills the whole world with his presence in a profoundly new way. And he has always been filling the world, and always will be. I can’t figure that out, how the horizontal and the vertical somehow come together, the in-time and the out-of-time, except that I know they do. They form a cross.
And I know that the week after the Ascension we celebrate Pentecost. This week. Pentecost: when without question the Holy Spirit comes and charges every heart and every mind and shines through all things forevermore. (And always has: again: that mystery of time and timelessness. The linear and the nonlinear.)
All of which leads somehow to this wonderful poem by William Stafford, a poem that doesn’t use any religious language at all, doesn’t seem to be about the Ascension (though notice the idea of “lifting up” the moment) or about Pentecost (though of course the whole point is that every moment is precious, is mysterious, is beyond all value). It’s just a wonderful poem. In some way I can’t quite figure out or explain, it’s about heaven and it’s about earth. About rising and entering in. About looking up and looking around—looking in, looking deeper.
We should be genuflecting all over the place.