Sunday, May 08, 2005

Mother's Day Ascension

Mother's Day began for me a few minutes past mid-night when my husband woke up, ran to the bathroom and barfed up everything he'd eaten the previous day. There's a stomach flu making the rounds in Portland--no big mystery there. He was up several more times before the night was over, so by morning I was groggy, feeling guilty for being the healthy one, and also faced with the prospect of taking the kids with me to church right off, rather than going early by myself and having T. breeze in with them just in time for Sunday school.

They were not delighted. Last Sunday T. was at a trade show in Seattle, so they had to endure tagging along for my pre-church routine that day too. On my list this morning was making copies of a hymn we were singing that is not in they hymnal. Hmmm, I considered. Which is the safer bet? Cranky kids in the room with the expensive copying equipment or cranky kids temporarily left to their own devices in the fellowship hall? I chose door number two. When I returned ten minutes later my seven year old son was lobbing his space shuttle flying disc at his five year old sister. She was sobbing, he was unrepentant. I confiscated the disc and put it on top of the refrigerator in our church's little kitchen, way at the back and out of kid reach. The phone rang and I went into the next room to answer it. Wrong number. Meanwhile the scene in the kitchen had deteriorated. In my absense my son had pushed a stool up to the fridge in an attempt to liberate his flying disc toy. Instead of retrieving it, he had managed to knock it off the side of the refrigerator where it was now lodged in the quarter inch space between the fridge and the wall. He was wild with anxiety that the toy was now lost forever and it was ALL MY FAULT!!!!!!! Funny how that works.

Through diligent efforts involving a wad of masking tape on the end of a yard stick, we angled the thing out by the time the rest of the gang arrived for Sunday School. Alls well that ends well, I guess. Let's just say that I wasn't in the most centered of places spiritually when I climbed into the pulpit to proclaim the Ascension of our Lord.

The language associated with Ascension can get to be a bit much, if you ask me. It's all heavenly thrones and celestial realms and divine majesty and crowns and dominions and clouds of glory. This can get on your last nerve, especially if you happen to be having a really shitty week. This is when it is a gift of pure grace to me to remember that in German the Ascension is called Die Himmelfahrt. I'm sure this doesn't sound a bit funny if you are actually a native German speaker. But if you are a barely post-adolescent American seminarian, as I was when I first made this discovery, it's just about enough to make your day.

Twenty years later, it still helps. It helps because it reminds me that the Ascension is the last scene of the last act of the Incarnation. This miraculous and mysterious event through which the presence of Christ becomes available to everyone across time and space is still clothed in the awkwardness of humanity. Just review thefamous paintings of the Ascension scene. Even the great ones can't disguise the magnificent ungainliness of a fully grown man floating heavenward leaving his disciples flat-footed and slack-jawed. In the Ascension the awkward messiness of humanity is somehow drawn into the life of God--made sacred and transformed. And that's the gospel truth.


Joe Coffee said...

Hey! Your blog looks like it could get interesting but it's a tough read for us ADD types! :) Without spaces and paragraphs, my eyes can't keep focused and I lose what word I'm on! HA! (g)

BEN ZAB said...

Mothers' day has lost its original reason and now has become a day of social nature between a mother and her kids. It was invented by one American woman to fight for saving the killing of Moms' sons in wars as she thought Moms were the worst hurt due to the Wars for they loose their sons. She also did not want her sons to kill other moms' sons but this all has gone in the back-ground during the last 100 years.
So the Moms' enjoy today atleast a day with their children. Some are lucky they enjoy the love of their kids all the days of the year. God bless them who care for their Moms.