Thursday, May 17, 2007
Lonely and Bereft
The Ascension is one feast I sure don't understand very well. It's not quite as warm and fuzzy as the Nativity, with a sweet newborn baby God born in a manger. It's not the same as Holy Friday with its rending grief, or the expected unexpected joy of Pascha.
By now I'm thoroughly sick of singing Christ is risen from the dead. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I think. Enough already. Christ is risen, and I'm still fat. Christ is risen and the house is still perpetually cluttered. Christ is risen and there is laundry to fold. Christ is risen and I still have to battle these constant voices in my head telling me I'm not enough of whatever it is I ought to be enough of.
But my mind goes to the precious story of Jesus by the lake, when his disciples are out fishing, when they recognize him, and there's a fire going, fish cooking, and Peter jumps out of the boat and lunges, swims, splashes toward Jesus. I like Peter in that moment. That is so like something I would do.
I imagine myself lunging toward the risen Christ, somewhere idyllic, somewhere calm, by a lake. Out of doors. One of my favorite things in the world is a camp fire in fresh morning air. I can really picture that scene. I wish I could eat fish by a fire with Jesus. I wish it so bad it leaves a lump in my throat, sometimes, thinking of it.
And then comes the ascension. Up, up and away! There he goes, and I know it's supposed to be all glorious, and transformative. I know all the reasons...anthropos united with God, this stuff of bone and flesh and hair enthroned in heaven. God. Human. The Holy Trinity is burst wide open and we have fellowship. The cross opened the gates of paradise. I KNOW all that. I sat there listening hard to the hymns last night at Vigil.
But all I can think of is: I want to be by that lake, in the early morning. Eating roasted fish by a campfire with Jesus. I don't want Him to go away!
And the ascension leaves me bereft.
My suspicion is that Ascension is hard because I barely comprehend Pentecost. Hopefully this year some light will dawn, beyond the personal tongue-speaking-dog-and-pony-show that being filled with the Holy Spirit was made out to be in my charismatic youth, or the "entire sanctification thou shalt be therefore perfect" schtick of my methodist days. Or the Holy Spirit-as-straightjacket stuff from my Mennonite days.
The only thing I know right now is that this Theosis thing, this Holy Spirit thing, has got to be entirely up to God because my sinfulness goes straight to the core of my being. But I also know that I want communion with God, that I want to have breakfast with Jesus by a lake somewhere, that I want to touch the hem of his garment and be healed. Jesus I can imagine, but the Holy Spirit is a person who is harder to know.
So the Ascension leaves me lonely.