The Ascension : Way Above My Head

Ascension of Christ

I find it hard to visualise the Ascension without falling into an almost childish vision of something akin to the film Close Encounters or ET going home.

Sitting still and trying to imagine it or being lazier still and googling for images of it brings up literal images of a body disappearing up into the sky whilst we earthlings strain and tilt our necks in a fixated stance of shock, horror and awe.

I don't know which artist painted this version above, but the person on the lower right hand side does not seem the slightest bit fazed at the amazing event going on above her /his head...
Actually, now I look at it more closely what is this person actually doing ? 

They seem to be sitting on someone else's head. 
Now even I'm getting distracted from the main event.......)

Images abound of Christ being lifted in a whirl of cloud up up and away, adrift in a space beyond my reach to eventually find Him at last on land and sitting on some sort of throne ---

Nope - I just cannot relate to this at all. 
And maybe that is the whole point. 

God's way is above my head and understanding .
The only way in is via another route... the heart ??
We know His kingdom is not of this world.
Faith is so often about absence rather than presence.

How about you ? How do you picture it ?

The Ascension rock on Mount of Olives, Jerusal...
The Ascension rock on Mount of Olives, Jerusalem, said to bear the imprint of the right foot of Jesus as he ascended, venerated by Christians as the last point on earth touched by the incarnate Christ. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This photo on the left is from The Ascension rock on Mount of Olives, Jerusalem, said to bear the imprint of the right foot of Jesus before he ascended.

Really ???

We humans always want the hard unrefutable evidence, don't we?

There is nothing in my experience I can lay a hand on to picture it, so I have never really spent much time on getting to grips with it.

I always end up putting it down to just another one of those faith things that defy my human ability to describe it and I suppose I must have heard or read explanations throughout my Catholic life but none of them must have been that convincing or I would have remembered them.

Over at Contemplative Photography there is a poem by Mary Oliver that gets me a little closer to  the Ascension......

"What I want in my life
is to be willing
to be dazzled --
to cast aside the weight of facts

and maybe even
to float a little
above this difficult world.
I want to believe I am looking

into the white fire of a great mystery.
I want to believe
that the imperfections are nothing --
that the light is everything--
that it is more than the sum
of each flawed blossom rising and fading.
And I do."

-- Mary Oliver "The Ponds"

My next offering below is a much more down to earth one and isn't even mine - my excuse is I have only been back a few hours from my hols so my spiritual brain lobes are not in working order. 
Mea culpa.

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Tim said...

Welcome back, Phil! Hope you had a great holiday.

I've spent a week wrestling with this Ascension thing and have given up on the physics of it. I don't know how the Enoch scenario worked, either. Apparently, he just keeps walking into the sky. Nor can I rationally picture Elijah sailing off in a heavenly chariot. Oh well.

But in my head-banging about the "reality" of it, I discovered there's a greater "reality" on the ground. The Ascension is truly a monumental event because of what it means in terms of what's now asked of us, as well as how it changes Christ's ministry in our lives. We become partners of a sort. While we pick up where He left off down here, He intercedes for us there. I've never felt this sort of reciprocity before, despite knowing both sides of the equation.

So while I still have no earthly idea how Jesus ascended, I've never been more grateful that He did!

Blessings--and glad you're back!

Meredith Gould said...

Yep, I can relate. In fact, I amuse myself (and a very small group of like-hearted others) but referring to this as the Feast of Jesus Goes Up and threatening to show up at Mass with a bouquet of balloons. And yet, every year I also seem to be more willing to embrace mystery and that's a very good thing.

claire said...

It is really nice to have you back, Phil! Nice post too!

Philomena Ewing said...

Three lovely friends comments to come back to... what better way to restart posting !!

Hi Tim : Greetings and it's great to have your comments!! Yes, the physicality of all this is hard to grasp but like you say it is our ministry now that has changed. Our priest this morning likened it to a helicopter trip from Penzance to the Isles of Scilly on a clear day. He has a huge parish and he cannot be in two places at one time but on this rare occasion he could see the whole of the area. from the helicopter and so he said that Christ had to "rise up " as part of the completion of His ministry to be there for all of us on the earth. Nice analogy.
Like you he also stressed that it was a handing over to us and that the disciples were able to go on their mission with firm hope because they had his divinity confirmed in numerous ways : by the Eucharist, the Transfiguration and by the Ascension. They finally were getting the complete message and whole picture and of course the Holy Spirit is to come soon.

Meredith- lovely to have you here !! The image of the balloons is great. I agree with you in your lovely phrase that learning to "embrace mystery" is central and how to articulate that for others is where we desperately need inspired creative people in the church to carry us forward.

Claire : Lovely to hear from you again and I am wondering are you in France now ?

Blessings to all three of you lovely friends.

xiaopywsp said...

We become partners of a sort. While we pick up where He left off down here, He intercedes for us there. I've never felt this sort of reciprocity before, despite knowing both sides of the equation