Ascension Day, 2021

They seem petulant, those disciples,
looking up, as if
demanding a map of Google Heaven,
with the coordinates
for where the Teacher is going,

hopefully tagged,
“if you see this, you’ve gone too far.”

Mostly our hearts ache for Jesus,
who already misses talking to people,
touching them, breathing in their faces,
putting mud on their eyes,
feeding them his personal recipe
for broiled fish on the beach.

The whole Incarnation
defined God as “in-person,”
from manger-straw to stone-rolling.

Then this day comes with a new message
about masking clouds
and the physical distance guidelines
of “right hand of God,”
a Zoom away from all the boxes
which are our lives.

And we, who are just as petulant
as disciples long ago, say,
“what’s not in-person isn’t real,”

need this ascension day story,
so we realize the Holy Spirit must arrive
in just those virtual or outdoors,
indoor temperature-checking,
pre-pack communion, name-tagged-pews,                                              
masks with the church-logo …

places where a wind can blow
and we sit tentatively
at God’s left-hand,
carefully offering to be the Body of Christ
in every possible way for others.

Ascension, Mural of Christ ascending to heaven on a graffiti wall in Bristol, England graffiti / mural, Bristol, United Kingdom from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN. https://diglib.library.vanderbilt.edu/act-imagelink.pl?RC=54351 [retrieved May 13, 2021]. Original source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/skip/111045024/.

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4 Responses to Ascension Day, 2021

  1. Love this. It captures the quirkiness, awkwardness and challenge of Ascension for us, and the human side of it for Jesus, grief at loss of the physicality and intimacy of incarnation.

  2. Thanks for sharing this beautiful poem!

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