If you’re of a certain age, you’ll probably know the source of, “Up! Up! And away!” (Superman). If you’re of another age or particular family/church origin, you’ll probably know the song, “I’ll Fly Away”. Then there is the airline advertising slogan, “Wanna’ get away?” If none of these strike a chord, then perhaps Prince Hamlet’s soliloquy from Shakespeare’s Hamlet that talks about escaping the “mortal coil”.
Regardless, there is a constant human desire to “escape” or “get away.” Sometimes it’s couched in heroic language (Superman). Sometimes it’s couched in resonative religious language (“I’ll Fly Away”). Sometimes it’s couched in depressing or dismal language (the soliloquy of Prince Hamlet).
Often, that desire to escape is the outpouring of emotions that seem to have no place to go when massive change comes. It might be only with a larger emotional event that we can move beyond our desire to fly away.
No matter what, the disciples knew that the tension between Jesus’ resurrection and whatever was coming next (as Jesus promised) would end, somehow. They were still living in that uncomfortable and awkward in-between. Then Jesus takes them out to the mountain…and up he went.
While Jesus’ Ascension is an important part of the story in the Scriptures, Jesus’ Ascension is also the sign that the disciples must go forward.“…why are you standing here, looking toward heaven?” In other words, Jesus is gone. Time to do your end of the mission.
Sometimes, even if the tension is uncomfortable, we rather stay with it, because moving forward means leaving something behind, and emotionally it may feel like death. We can see this in the seasons (at least in the less temperate climates). Fall has these bursts of beauty, but the tension is that the bursts are leading to endings.
Then winter comes and the land is not-so lively anymore. The question for us is do we want to remain in a spiritual winter? Whether the disciples were in a spiritual Fall or Winter is probably more for the poets to determine. Spring is coming, however. As Paul says, “I pray that the eyes of your heart will have enough light to see what is the hope of God’s call…”I don’t know what spiritual season of life you are in. In fact, different aspects of your life may have different spiritual seasons, so you may not even be able to tell.
What endings are you seeing that you need Paul’s prayer for your life?
Lord, many of us feel completely out of sorts, and we can’t figure out why. We try to name and analyze, but we will likely fail. Help us to stop looking back, and help us to look forward, and that our hearts will seek, see, and embrace the light that is you. Amen.