Now You See Him…

755843_goodbye-1by Rebecca Fullan

I have trouble relating to the Ascension. It seems a little cheap magic tricky. And also a lot unfair. Forty days later, forty days, there’s some weird thing with a cloud and he’s off again. Less blood this time, less horror and cross-clinging, but really.

I asked Rachel, my partner in potentially criminal theology, what to write about on this topic, and she asked what happened to Jesus’ body in the whole Ascension thing. I said it went with him, that this was part of the point. So I’m gonna think about bodies-and-spirits together, the things they do together, the things they do with/in Jesus and with/in us—because today, for me, that is the mystery of the Ascension.

On the subway, on my way home tonight, I remembered to bless the time I had with these bored and tired strangers. To peer, for a moment, at the shape and flow that had pulled us into contact with each other. To give them my best, with my eyes and my stance, for we might never meet again. I watched their bodies. I thought of the Hindu practice of darsan, which I have been taught to understand as both seeing and being seen by God, by Gods, by a holy person. I practiced a weird darsan on the subway, blessing and being blessed by eyes that looked away from mine, by worn faces and clutched umbrellas. This was the moment of all of us together, and I branched out.

On the way to the subway, there’s this shelter-thing. It’s a perfunctory wooden structure, three walls and a floor. There’s always somebody in it, somebody ragged with whom I do not wish to think about mutual blessing. On one of the inside walls it says, written in marker, “It is Jesus who loves us, not the church.” Today the man inside smelled terrible. The kind of smell that reaches inside and twists my stomach. My disgust—in my body, for his body– is visceral and not-to-be-escaped. It was the moment of us together, and I recoiled.

You know that saying, “You make a better door than a window?” It’s an oddly poetic chastisement for being in the way, saying, “I can’t see through you,” that always made me nervous about my own solidity. Being body-and-spirit, I think, is being door and window. God and human. This and that and the other thing, too. It is always being both in the way and on the way.

And what does it mean to ascend, with/in that body-and-spirit?

I still don’t know. But perhaps it’s somewhat about dissemination. About why I meet Jesus all over the place, in all kinds of bodies. He ascends, but like all the rest of it, I dare to hope this is not what it appears to be. He may be more Emmanuel than ever. And where he has gone, he calls us to follow. Be body-and-spirit in all places. See, and be seen. Move, and be moved.

It’s gonna be some trick, if we can pull it off.

Peek-a-boo! Rebecca Fullan sees you!

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5 Responses

  1. What started out with you feeling like you had trouble relating to the Ascension ended with such a beautiful insight into what we are called to do by Jesus by the Ascension. Yes. Emmanuel! We are to be Jesus’ body and soul. He lives in us and we in Him! While overwhelming because we are “left” to do His work, it is amazingly possible if we remember that God is in us and we are in God and equally important to remember always that God is in each and every one of us. Keep looking for Him in the least of your brothers and sisters. Thank you for the important insight and reminder. Lots and lots of Love, Mom

  2. Rebecca:

    In reading your recent blog entry about the Ascension, I must say I only know what I have seen in the movies and heard on overly long Sunday masses or watched in Twilight Zone episodes where the guy with the pencil cup turns out to have the wisdom of the ages. If god is everywhere as we are taught, then the ascension should be with everything.

    We should see rocks flying towards heaven (be sure to duck), and the lyrics of Lennon and Eminem (be sure to duck there as well) followed by a Johnny Damon home run and the little girl in the front row who never knew I existed in the back row. Not just people, I’ve been told but living breathing things (though I do not know of people for the ethical treatment of grass). Whenever I get overwhelmed by life, which is frequently, I try to remember that God is all around us, ready to do those footseps in the sand things until I can handle it myself.

    I know he thinks I’m pushing it but just a little longer and I will be able to deal with life. What? he says, albeit gently, you need a little adversity to prove to yourself that you can do it. Of course, his idea of adversity and mine are vastly different.

    I try to honor everyone and everything. To do less, would make his job so much harder. Maybe once in a while it can be my foosteps in the sand?

    Your comments aim high and provoke thought. There can be no higher calling.

  3. Let’s start a club. The Potentially Criminal Theology Club. Or maybe we’ve already started that one….

  4. Becky, thank you SO MUCH for this piece. You have such a way of capturing things that I wonder about into beautiful, poetic phrases that simultaneously leave me with a sense of wonder and awe and challenge the hell out of me.

    Can I join your club? 🙂

  5. Hehe, I can’t imagine a PCT Club I could be in without you in it, too, Kate!

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