Ascended, But Not Far Away

Ascended, But Not Far Away

Well, the Feast of the Ascension of Jesus is coming up, folks. Observance start tomorrow and in some places happens all day on Sunday.

It’s got me thinking.

To be completely honest, Jesus’ Ascension has always stirred up feelings of abandonment in me. Why did he have to go? What did it feel like to stand there on that mountain and watch your friend and savior disappear before your eyes, especially after the ultimate miracle of his resurrection? And why did he have to go so far away, all the way up to the “the right hand of God?”

The whole thing reminds me of that moment right after the goodbye while your love’s car rounds the corner out of sight.

And it doesn’t feel good. There’s an ache to it. It’s fine in the long run, really. Life goes on and there is work to be done. But, still. It hurts me to think of it--maybe especially because the separation my spouse and I had to endure so that I could finish seminary is still very fresh in my body.

I am bringing this to Christ’s Ascension; it’s all tied up.

The scripture today (find the whole list of daily lectionary readings here), however, upsets my despair. It disturbs this notion of an abandoning, far-away Jesus.

"Peace on Earth Begins at Birth"

"Peace on Earth Begins at Birth"

“Peace on earth begins at birth.”

I heard this quote somewhere years ago. It is a fairly popular refrain among female activists and birth-givers. I thought it referred to “calm,” “soothing,” or “natural” birth practices, or, I don’t know, trying not to make the baby cry. I thought it was about the baby’s experience.

However, my experience of finishing Ina May Gaskin’s Guide to Childbirth on Good Friday and then going to services—all during peak ovulation and its brave hope—brought out a different and deeper meaning that extends and encompasses the baby’s experience, the mother’s, and, indeed, the whole human community.

If we truly respected women (or “womben”), life-making, and life-giving, there could be peace on earth. If we truly recognized and honored the sacred nature of the birthing process, the holy passage of it all, how could anyone move to diminish or destroy creation, that which came through such a sacred course? If we understood and honored all of the hope and tears and spiritual labor that went into one child—how could we ever take that person from this world, either with one bullet or hundreds of denied opportunities? How could anyone destroy a mother’s child? Someone who has come though the sacred gates?

Lent: How It's Keeping Us this Year

Lent: How It's Keeping Us this Year

Just shy of two weeks ago some dear colleagues and I were sitting at the community lunch table. Between tidbits from class and the day-to-day came, of course, a discussion of Lent. It was, after all, the week before Ash Wednesday: the beginning of many folks’ favorite time of Year.

Lent's popularity crosses all the major Christian traditions. Even evangelicals and capital “P” Protestants are doing it. My family kept Lent when I was a girl—and we were Southern Baptist!

There is something about this season of preparation, this invitation to turn and walk lighter in the shadow of the cross. It moves many of us in a deep way, like the gradual pull of an ocean current or the flirty come-hither dance of a fire’s flame.

Perhaps we know in our bodies—centers of integral discernment our brains oft ignore—that something important will be said and asked of us at Easter. We’ll need to prepare for that. It does a body good to prepare for the holy. I feel that need. All the ions in my body point toward that laden cross and empty grave.

Like the rest of the Year, Lent is something that happens--whether we “do” anything about it or not. Our “doing,” though, can help us become more aware of God’s wooing ways, of God’s invitation to the way of the cross.

Saint Anne on the Porch: A Peacehaven Chronicle

Saint Anne on the Porch: A Peacehaven Chronicle

Sharing another Peacehaven story from the memory-swamp in my brain. This one has wound itself around Transfiguration Sunday, which was yesterday.

A moment of glory--

We sat on the porch that morning. Our little band of Peacehaven dwellers gathered up like we were itching to get at something. It wasn’t quite hot yet, but almost. Anne sat on my left. We rocked our chairs together.

The brothers fiddled with their thoughts and various social negotiations—eyes darting here and there, with a “you know what…” followed by an awkward joke or two. We let it pass as a group. Those things happen. We kept rocking.

Then, all of a sudden, there was peace.

Brigid of Kildare: A Sister from the Womb of God

Brigid of Kildare: A Sister from the Womb of God

A few months ago a professor asked my colleagues and me to practice Lectio Divina with nature. Lectio Divina, or divine reading, is a spiritual way of reading scripture in order to listen for the whispers of God. It involves reading a brief passage several times while noticing with each pass which part seems to shimmer at the reader, draw the reader in, or ask something of the reader.

My professor wanted us to do this with nature. To go outside with God and discern that which God was asking us to see or to sit with.

Goosebumps still stand on my arms to remember the way matter and Mystery communed and communicated together that drizzly afternoon.

My experience went like this...