Thursday, May 10, 2018

Thinking of Satellites on the Feast of the Ascension

Today is the Feast Day of the Ascension,  40 days after Easter, 10 days before Pentecost.  This feast day commemorates Jesus being taken up into Heaven.

In the church of my childhood, we must have celebrated this festival on a Sunday.  I have memories of hearing the story in church; I don't have much memory of celebrating Pentecost as a child.  Now, Ascension can go by without a peep, especially in a year like this one, where I would bet serious money that more churches will be talking about mothers than ascension, since this Sunday will be Mother's Day in the U.S.

By the point that the disciples witness the Ascension, are they used to these sorts of wonders?  Their savior has risen from the dead, after all.  Maybe being scooped up into heaven wasn't as wonder inducing--and yet, I suspect it was.

When I think of the events of Holy Week, Easter, and the time up to the Ascension, I wonder if any of them came close to a breaking point.  I think of the Pentecost story, where once again we find the disciples holed up in a room.  I wonder if some of them were rocking themselves in a corner, muttering about how the world had cracked open, and not in a good way.

In our current time, we may have lost our sense of wonder.  When I watch us talking or tapping on our cell phones, I sometimes remind myself of the miraculous developments that the cell phone represents.  For better or worse, it provides phone coverage to places that once were remote.  It puts an enormous amount of commuting power in a very portable container.  Satellites circle the earth to assist with these processes.

Sure, we might use them in the most mundane way:  to coordinate the car pool pick up or dinner plans or to find each other in a crowd.  And yet, maybe it's profound, in ways we don't acknowledge.  We ascend by way of satellites to find each other, to tell each other of our love.

I think of Jesus and all of the others who have ascended before us.  I think of the love that is our mission.  As I look up from my writing desk, out of the window that faces east, the moon becomes visible.  I think of satellites, the ones we've made of metal and the ones that existed long before we hurled things into space.  All of us, circling, all of us lost in both our daily orbits and our larger obsessions.

On this feast day of the Ascension, let us keep our eyes on the Savior who has gone before us.  Let us stay grounded in the love that declares us wondrously made.  Let us go forth and love similarly.

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