Glory to Your Tender Mercy!
I realized I missed the Feast of the Ascension. I didn't miss it in real life, of course, but I did here on the blog. I love this feast, it's drama, it's promise, and it's power.
Can you imagine being with the Resurrected Jesus for 40 days, learning with Him, eating with Him, still stunned by the miracle of the Resurrection. Then, one day, while you watch, He goes away again, only this time not in shame but in Glory. And yet He still is gone. Joy, exaltation, fear, sadness. The promise of the coming of the Spirit fresh in your ears, hope, wonder, anticipation, and yet again, fear, sadness. The nine days spent in prayer waiting for Christ's promise to be fulfilled. Like waiting for the Resurrection, and yet different, as God is about to be encountered in Spirit, not in Flesh. To wait for that powerful event, not knowing how it will be, but knowing you will be transformed by God's presence, once again. The sadness of feeling orphaned, the hope for God's great mercy.
From Liturgy on this great feast :
"O Lord, Life-Giving Christ, when the apostles saw You ascending upon the clouds, a great sadness filled them: they shed burning tears and exclaimed: "O our Master, do not leave us as orphans: we are your servants whom You loved so tenderly. Since You are most merciful, send down to us you All-Holy Spirit to enlighten our souls."
I find myself imitating these emotions in my life. Sadness that Christ seems so far away at times, as if I were left. The desire to See Him, to be touched by Him. The glory of His power as the Divine, awesome to behold, the desire to serve, the fervent begging for the Spirit to enliven my life. Shedding burning tears while acknowledging His tender care at the same time. Eagerly awaiting the Heavenly Consoler and Spirit of Truth, in great hope, and yet in fear.
"Sweet Jesus, while You lived on earth, You were God, inseparable from the Father, and yet a meal Man. Ascending in glory today from the Mount of Olives, through your great love You lifted up our fallen nature and placed it on God the Father's throne. Wherefore the hosts of bodiless heavenly beings were amazed and dazzled : Together with them, we who live on earth glorify your coming down to us and your rising away from us, and implore You, saying : "Through your ascension, You have filled your apostles and your Mother with a joy that surpasses every other joy. Through their intercession, make us worthy of the joy of your elect, for You are infinitely merciful."
(icon found here)