I was out running the other morning. It was the first time I had run in a little while because the Ridgeline Trail over in DuPont took the ounce of flesh nearest my elbow out on Memorial Day. It did not seem prudent to risk busting my stitches open by taking a fall when my toe inevitably hooked under a root somewhere. By the other morning seemed safe enough, so I went out.
And while I was out, I was thinking about the various plans I had made, the castles of sand one might say. The events of the previous couple of days had seemed to overwhelm and wash them away, like a wave crashing into the shore and sweeping the beach clean. Now, in truth the castles weren’t too big and I had not gotten too invested in them, but still, they were exciting to think about and were now gone. The situation felt like the kind of frustration people feel when their conversations, communications, and contemplations don’t quite come together and they blame Mercury for being in retrograde.
I know what they mean, but I don’t really know what they mean. I know what it feels like to have the connections come loose, but I don’t know the first thing about what it means for what I can only assume is the planet Mercury to be moving retro-wise. And I don’t really care to know; I just like using the phrase. That’s not really fair to the Mercury in Retrograde true believers, and I did not want to apply it to what I was experiencing as a real spiritual phenomenon. So what did I have to explain what I was feeling?
Well, the Ascension. Obviously. You know about the Ascension, when Jesus went up (was lifted?) to sit beside the first person of the Trinity. In and of itself, this is an important Christian doctrine because its implication is that there is a real, live human being (and all humanity by proxy) in the presence of God. Possibly, this gives God to be present to all humanity but only by proxy. Proxies only count in shareholders meetings and homeowners associations.
There is good news in the promise of the Paraclete, the Holy Ghost, the third person of the Trinity who Jesus promises is on the way. But that’s like an Amazon package before Prime shipping. The ding-dang thing won’t be here for a good ten days after the Ascension. What are we supposed to do in the meantime? We are, once again, in a period of wait and see like Advent or Holy Saturday.
Sometimes I am good at waiting. Other times I am not. There is a story of St. Theresa getting so frustrated with her meditation that she took the hourglass used as a timer and shook it in a vain attempt to make the grains of sand fall faster. But the only thing that will make the time pass is passing time.
It also helps to have each other, to look over at a companion when none of the chips seem to be falling where we want and say “Ascension, right?” Before he takes off, Jesus gives his students one more teaching, and then they go on a field trip. The point seems to be Jesus saying “You’ve got this, at least for a little while.” Not individually, but together. We’ll get through another one of God’s little absences. Plus, the Paraclete will be here soon enough.