Thursday, October 25, 2007

2nd Glorious Mystery: The Ascension

It is almost as if the world has emptied itself. That might sound a strange way of talking about what has just happened, but it is the only description that comes to mind. The world is suddenly silent, even with the birdsong, the breeze and the incessant noise of the cicadas as a background to our thoughts.

We all stood in soundless stupefaction, not knowing what to do, not daring to speak. We were suddenly enveloped in silence. We were still and yet only because immobilised in confusion.

A few minutes ago, Jesus had been with us, talking and chatting as we strode up the mountain. We sat around when we reached a suitable resting place, and merely chatted about anything and everything. The sun was pleasantly warm and we were in no hurry. The day stretched ahead of us, or so we thought, because I think that everybody possibly felt as I did: that there was something immensely important to Jesus, something that would touch our whole future lives.

I am not sure at what point our conversation became serious. Was it a sudden or merely a gradual change? I cannot say. Looking back, it seems as though at a common moment we tired of trivialities. The commonplace of our lives appeared exactly what it was: commonplace, composed of the small events and often empty words and thoughts of small people.

Jesus did not demean us in our smallness. That is something he has never done, even when one or more of us had said or done something really foolish. On this occasion, ‘small’ meant ‘beautiful’. It meant finding ourselves in a position of receiving, for, all of a sudden, we all experienced such a spiritual hunger and thirst that I have no words that can convey the feeling. It was all-consuming.

It was at that moment that the words of Jesus took on a new character for we were listening in a way that had never happened in the three years of our wandering around Israel with the Master. Yes, we had learned much from him during that time, but now we hung onto every word as though it had to be captured for ever, as though this was our only opportunity to be with Jesus and to ask questions of him, hearing him respond in our own Aramaic.

It sounds strange, but for me, it was as if my chest had been bound with tight metal bands that, without warning, burst and allowed me to draw in a deep breath. It was if I was learning to breathe for the first time, as if each intake of air was something deeper than had ever before been possible. With every inhalation, it seemed as though I was absorbing the words of Jesus and making them my own.

It was an amazing experience. We felt ‘little’ and it was beautiful, because, in our littleness, we saw the greatness of Jesus and everything he was saying. We understood, perhaps for the first time, the importance of every moment that we had been together. It was as if our hearts and souls had been parched and were now slaked, as if we had been starving and were now no longer hungry… and yet with the satisfying of our hunger and thirst, there was also a yearning need for more, because our starvation and drought would never be fully satisfied.

All too soon, Jesus stood. We were surprised because we could have listened to him for ever. He spoke a few more words and then, to our amazement, he began to ascend into the heavens. Slowly, ever so slowly, he rose above us. An opening appeared in the clouds…and he was gone! He had disappeared!

How does someone disappear? Where had he gone? Jesus, does this mean that we now have to live out the rest of our lives without your presence? What did you mean when you said that you would be with us until the end of time?

God bless,
Sr. Janet