May your heart be an altar, from which the bright flame of unending thanksgiving ascends to heaven. — Mary Euphrasia Pelletier
Jesus raised our eyes above and beyond the narrow limits of our … lives, showed us other horizons, gives us a world beyond our ourselves. — Joan Chittister
Blue Horses (excerpt) — Mary Oliver
This is what I have.
The dull hangover of waiting,
the blush of my heart on the damp grass,
the flower-faced moon.
A gull broods on the shore
where a moment ago there were two.
Softly my right hand fondles my left hand
as though it were you.
We must be willing to get rid of the life we’ve planned so as to have the life that’s waiting for us. — Joseph Campbell
I’ll be honest, Jesus, Ascension Day brings up some abandonment issues for me. I know you promised we wouldn’t be alone, that you would send a Helper and Advocate, full of power and truth and ready to guide, but let’s face it: the fire of the Spirit is the wild kind. One moment I sense that it’s blazing like the burning bush, the next it’s like it’s out with a poof. I still haven’t figured it out. I still haven’t been able to pin it down. — Rachel Held Evans
THE SWAN — Mary Oliver
Across the wide waters
with white flowers–
and it moves
on its miraculous muscles
as though time didn’t exist
as though bringing such gifts
to the dry shore
was a happiness
almost beyond bearing.
And now it turns its dark eyes,
the clouds of its wings,
an elaborate webbed foot,
the color of charcoal.
Soon it will be here.
Oh, what shall I do
when that poppy-colored beak
rests in my hand?
Said Mrs. Blake of the poet:
I miss my husband’s company–
he is so often
Of course! the path to heaven
doesn’t lie down in flat miles.
It’s in the imagination
with which you perceive
and the gestures
with which you honor it.
Oh, what will I do, what will I say, when those white wings
touch the shore?
SONGS about ascension:
- Highlands by Hillsong (Christian rock/contemporary): https://youtu.be/mkbxP0rxt6E
- Lift Me Up by Rihanna (R&B/pop/anthem): https://youtu.be/Mx_OexsUI2M
- Ascension by Holly Johnson (rock): https://youtu.be/FTN2pN1_sGo
- Ascension by Mei-lan Maurits (contemplative): https://youtu.be/kfzWWL5alfc
- Ascension by Maxwell (rock): https://youtu.be/D7rm9t5S4uE
- He Is Exalted by Twila Paris (Christian): https://youtu.be/keVPL9HfuJ8
- Ascension by Phil Wickham (Christiian): https://youtu.be/spNzK86zAHo
- Lift Me Up by Five Finger Death Punch (metal rock): https://youtu.be/X-2yuGgp_U8
SONGS about heaven:
- I Can Only Imagine by MercyMe (Christian):https://youtu.be/N_lrrq_opng
- Stairway to Heaven by Led Zeppelin (rock): https://youtu.be/xbhCPt6PZIU
- Heaven by Los Lonely Boys (rock): https://youtu.be/wvkzoqQ5Oak
- Tears in Heaven by Eric Clapton (ballad): https://youtu.be/JxPj3GAYYZ0
- Heaven by Bryan Adams (pop): https://youtu.be/s6TtwR2Dbjg
- Heaven by Blake Shelton (country): https://youtu.be/Y3giOp8sAVs
- Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door by Bob Dylan (R&B/folk ballad): https://youtu.be/rm9coqlk8fY
- When I Get Where I’m Goin’ by Brad Paisley (country): https://youtu.be/yYHT-TF4KO4
- Heaven for Everyone by Queen (rock): https://youtu.be/l6KUpXtTYQk
- Hymn of Heaven by Phil Wickham (Christian): https://youtu.be/CjB0mkj0XaM
- Heaven Is a Place on Earth by Belinda Carlisle (pop): https://youtu.be/05V4CgSL0lw
- Heaven by Beyonce (R&B): https://youtu.be/QyOok1myLjw
- Heaven by Matthew West (pop): https://youtu.be/zbsBUf9VKyc
- Scars in Heaven by Casting Crowns (Christian): https://youtu.be/qCdevloDE6E
- Locked Out of Heaven by Bruno Mars (pop): https://youtu.be/e-fA-gBCkj0
- If You Came Back from Heaven by Lorrie Morgan (country): https://youtu.be/AVNlbEdJUYY
- Just Like Heaven by The Cure (rock): https://youtu.be/1ASpBpT8bRQ
- Heaven by Niall Horan (pop): https://youtu.be/4G9LwTTnn_k
- Heaven by Emili Sande (rock): https://youtu.be/cwHe0ddggig
- Heaven by Avicii perfromed by David Guetta (pop): https://youtu.be/mcNaThbOIaI
- Heaven by Kane Brown (country): https://youtu.be/dRX0wDNK6S4
- Heaven’s Song by Jeremy Riddle (Christian): https://youtu.be/5x3gMbJOak4
- Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door performed by Guns n’ Roses (rock ballad): https://youtu.be/f8OHybVhQwc
- Letter to Heaven by Dolly Parton (country): https://youtu.be/CBq1s1AB2Uc
- Rock and Roll Heaven by The Righetous Brothers (rock): https://youtu.be/bddSJbj3VGA
- Disco Heaven by Lady Gaga (pop): https://youtu.be/Hb7L3ZEg_K4
- Heaven Has a Bar by Zac Brown, Niko Moon (country): https://youtu.be/kTgcKg6OFMI
- I’ll See You Again by WestLife (spiritual): https://youtu.be/G3Z8gOettTo
- Heaven by Julia Michaels (pop): https://youtu.be/shHTYg-rOAg
STAY — Jan Richardson
A Blessing for Ascension Day
I know how your mind rushes ahead
trying to fathom what could follow this.
What will you do, where will you go, how will you live?
You will want to outrun the grief.
You will want to keep turning toward the horizon,
watching for what was lost to come back,
to return to you and never leave again.
For now hear me when I say
all you need to do is to still yourself
is to turn toward one another is to stay.
Wait and see what comes
to fill the gaping hole in your chest.
Wait with your hands open to receive what could never come
except to what is empty and hollow.
You cannot know it now, cannot even imagine
what lies ahead, but I tell you the day is coming
when breath will fill your lungs
as it never has before and with your own ears
you will hear words coming to you new and startling.
You will dream dreams and you will see the world ablaze with blessing.
Wait for it. Still yourself. Stay.
Sweetly parading you go my soul of soul, go not without me;
life of your friends, enter not the garden without me.
Sky, revolve not without me; moon, shine not without me;
earth travel not without me, and time, go not without me.
With you this world is joyous, and with you that world is joyous;
in this world dwell not without me, and to that world depart not without me.
Vision, know not without me, and tongue, recite not without
me; glance behold not without me, and soul, go not without me.
The night through the moon’s light sees its face white; I am
light, you are my moon, go not to heaven without me.
The thorn is secure from the fire in the shelter of the roses
face: you are the rose, I your thorn; go not into the rose garden without me.
I run in the curve of your mallet when your eye is with me;
even so gaze upon me, drive not without me, go not without me.
When, joy, you are companion of the king, drink not without
me; when, watchman, you go to the kings roof, go not without me.
Alas for him who goes on this road without your sign; since
you, O signless one, are my sign, go not without me.
Alas for him who goes on the road without my knowledge;
you are the knowledge of the road for me; O road-knower, go not without me.
Others call you love, I call you the king of love; O you who are
higher than the imagination of this and that, go not without me.
THE GIFT —Mary Oliver
Be still, my soul, and steadfast.
Earth and heaven both are still watching
though time is draining from the clock
and your walk, that was confident and quick,
has become slow.
So, be slow if you must, but let
the heart still play its true part.
Love still as once you loved, deeply
and without patience. Let God and the world
know you are grateful. That the gift has been given.
If you have to convince someone to stay with you then they have already left. ― Shannon L. Alder
To want to run away is an essence of being human, it transforms any staying through the transfigurations of choice. To think about fleeing from circumstances, from a marriage, a relationship or from a work is part of the conversation itself and helps us understand the true distilled nature of our own reluctance. Strangely, we are perhaps most fully incarnated as humans, when part of us does not want to be here, or doesn’t know how to be here. Presence is only fully understood and realized through fully understanding our reluctance to show up. To understand the part of us that wants nothing to do with the full necessities of work, of relationship, of loss, of doing what is necessary, is to learn humility, to cultivate self-compassion and to sharpen that sense of humor essential to a merciful perspective of both a self and another. ― David Whyte
You forgot that sometimes, fair value comes from change, and death, and sacrifice. You can’t have everything and give fair value. You can’t stop your clock and expect to stay a part of the world. ― Seanan McGuire
It turns out that you don’t end up with the people you love; by definition, you end up with the ones who stay. ― Andrew Sean Greer
She rose slowly. She didn’t want to go. She also rather resented staying. ― D.H. Lawrence
Our faith is often embodied in the relationships and neighborhoods where we live. In our world of globalization, technology, and mobility, we’ve misplaced the sacredness of place. The act of staying and living in our place has an impact on us practically, of course, but also on us theologically. It’s not always sexy to stay put, is it? In most of my church tradition, no one ever mentioned the holy work of staying. ― Sarah Bessey
CHRISTIAN COMMENTARY on ASCENSION
At His Ascension our Lord entered Heaven, and He keeps the door open for humanity to enter. — Oswald Chambers
The story of Jesus living, dying, and rising from death gets a lot of well-deserved attention, but we sometimes overlook another crucial, mysterious scene in the narrative. As the book of Acts begins, we’re told that after resurrection, Jesus is “taken up” or “lifted up” (Greek, epērthē) into the sky, where he disappears behind the clouds …
Commonly called the ascension, the belief that Jesus “ascended” into Heaven, has been essential to followers of Jesus for almost 2,000 years (e.g. The Nicene Creed, 325 C.E.).
But what does it mean that Jesus “ascended into Heaven”? Did Jesus take off into outer space? Is the point of the ascension that Jesus floated away into the clouds, or is it something else? More importantly, why does any of this matter? To answer these questions, and to better understand Jesus’ powerful ascension, we need to step back and start with the big biblical concepts of Heaven and Earth—God’s space and human’s space. — BibleProject, full article: https://bibleproject.com/articles/the-ascension-of-jesus/
The present account of Jesus’ ascension (Lk. 24:50-51) is not of a different event from the ascension recorded in Acts 1:2, 4-11. It is simply a shorter version of it. Luke makes the departure of Jesus both the climax of the Gospel and the commencement of the Acts of the Apostles. The stress is on Jesus’ priestly action in blessing the disciples and on their praise to God in the temple. (Marshall, 907)
[The author of the Gospel of] Luke intends for us to see in this departure parallels to the great prophets Moses and Elijah whom Jesus both follows and surpasses. (See Luke’s account of the Transfiguration, especially 9:31.) Jesus completes the “departure” or “exodus” of his suffering, death and resurrection by being carried up into heaven (2 Kgs. 2:1-18). Like Elijah he blessed those who stay behind and arranges for them to receive a measure of his Spirit (2 Kgs. 2:9). (Byrne, 192-3) — Alyce McKenzie, Patheos: full article: https://www.patheos.com/resources/additional-resources/2011/05/we-will-never-be-without-him-alyce-mckenzie-05-30-2011?p=2
This is the grace of Ascension Day: to be taken up into the heaven of our own souls, the point of immediate contact with God. To rest on this quiet peak, in the darkness that surrounds God. To live there through all trials and all business with the “tranquil God who makes all things tranquil.” — Thomas Merton
The departing Jesus does not make his way to some distant star. He enters into communion of power and life with the living God, into God’s dominion over space. Hence he has not “gone away”, but now and forever by God’s power he is present with us and for us. In the farewell discourses of Saint John’s Gospel, this is exactly what Jesus says to his disciples: “I go away, and I will come to you” (14:28). These words sum up beautifully what is so special about Jesus’ “going away”, which is also his “coming”, and at the same time explain the mystery of the Cross, the Resurrection, and the Ascension. — Pope Benedict XVI
Most of Christianity has been doing just that, straining to find the historical Jesus “up there.” Where did he go? We’ve been obsessed with the question because we think the universe is divided into separate levels—heaven and earth. But it is one universe and all within it is transmuted and transformed by the glory of God. The whole point of the Incarnation and Risen Body is that the Christ is here—and always was! But now we have a story that allows us to imagine it just might be true. Jesus didn’t go anywhere. He became the universal omnipresent Body of Christ. That’s why the final book of the Bible promises us a new heaven and a new earth. (Revelation 21:1), not an escape from earth. We focused on “going” to heaven instead of living on earth as Jesus did—which makes heaven and earth one. It is heaven all the way to heaven. What you choose now is exactly what you choose to be forever. God will not disappoint you. — Richard Rohr
Luke begins his second volume of his two-volume “history” of the origins and spread of early Christianity with a salutation to an apparent benefactor, Theophilus by name, “God lover” in Greek. He reminds this unknown man that his “first book was about everything Jesus began to do and teach up to the day he was lifted up” (Acts 1:1-2a). For Luke this “lifting up” is the hinge that holds his two books together. At Luke 9:51, following the event of Transfiguration, Luke warns that “the days drew near for him to be taken up” (analempsis in Greek). This “taking up” is in fact Jesus’ “exodus,” the object of the discussion that Moses and Elijah were having on the mountain at Luke 9:31. In short, Jesus’ ascension, accomplished in Acts 1, is nothing less than his exodus from the earth, mirroring Elijah’s own mysterious ascension in a fiery chariot in 2 Kings 2:9-11. Luke thus connects the events of Jesus’ ascent to God with a similar experience in the Hebrew Bible and joins Jesus with the quintessential prophet of justice, Elijah. By so doing, Luke in his unique literary way uses the ascension motif as a way of preaching to us a sermon about the true identity of Jesus Messiah, recalling his many roots in the sacred past of Israel’s story. — John Holbert, Patheos, full article: https://www.patheos.com/progressive-christian/speculators-or-witnesses-john-holbert-05-14-2012
On Ascension Day, we are called to “go up”—to find higher ground—not to escape Earth’s crises, but to gain a vision and mission that is larger than ourselves or our communities. We don’t need to look to the heavens to find inspiration. The ever-present God is right here, giving us all the guidance and inspiration we need, if we but look beyond ourselves. Our mission is here—to heal, to embrace, to welcome, and to love. We don’t need to wait for a far off day of perfection and rapture. If God is always with us, then right here and now can be the day of transformation and fulfillment. — Bruce Epperly
This makes us an odd people, you know. I mean Christians, people who believe in God the Father, Christ the son and the Holy Spirit – we are a people for whom the story isn’t ever finished. A people for whom there is always more. Within our suffering, there is always more, when we think our lives are hopeless there is always more, when the plot points of our lives don’t end up the way we planned, there is always more, when we feel powerless there is always more Why? Because after the humiliation and suffering of the cross – there was more – after he was laid in a tomb there was more – and after there was Pentecost flames on people’s heads and speaking in other languages there was more. We as Christians base our hope not on our own power, not on the Dow Jones, not on how awesome our lives look, not on our own righteousness, but on the God of an empty tomb. That story of birth and death and resurrection and ascension and the spirit is still being told. — Nadia Bolx-Weber
Christ, while in heaven, is also with us; and we, while on earth, are also with him. He is with us in his godhead and his power and his love; and we, though we cannot be with him in godhead as he is with us, can be with him in our love, our love for him.
He did not leave heaven when he came down to us from heaven; and he did not leave us when he ascended to heaven again. His own words show that he was in heaven while he was here: ‘No one has ascended into heaven but he who descended from heaven, the Son of man who is in heaven.’
He said this because of the unity between us and himself, for he is our head and we are his body. The words ‘no one but he’ are true, since we are Christ, in the sense that he is the Son of man because of us, and we are the children of God because of him.
For this reason Saint Paul says: ‘Just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is also with Christ. — St Augustine
The way to heaven is ascending; we must be content to travel uphill, though it be hard and tiresome, and contrary to the natural bias of our flesh … Resolution One: I will live for God. Resolution Two: If no one else does, I still will. … Grace is but glory begun, and glory is but grace perfected. … The happiness of the creature consists in rejoicing in God, by which also God is magnified and exalted. — Jonathan Edwards
As God’s royal priests, Adam and Eve were, metaphorically, going up or ascending this cosmic mountain temple in order to be in God’s presence. They were not floating up into the sky or necessarily even mountain climbing, but this is how the author literarily emphasized God’s transcendence.
At the top of the mountain, united fully with God and integrated with his will, Adam and Eve receive God’s creative word and his good life. And as God’s representatives, they were tasked to go down from Eden and extend God’s word and life to the whole creation.
Notice that their ascension does not remove them from physical creation, nor does their “going down” to the rest of the world remove them from God’s divine realm. ….
In the Exodus narrative, we see God commanding Moses and his fellow leaders to “come up” to a mountain, have a meal in God’s presence, and receive the instructions God has for the Israelites … Moses ascends with the elders of Israel into the cloud of divine glory to meet with God. In this place⏤where the author describes God as sitting on a shimmering, “blue as the sky,” clear, stone floor⏤we see human and divine in a mysterious togetherness with God’s space and humanity’s space integrated as one. Remember: these human beings entered God’s space without transporting out of the physical world, which most basically describes the priestly role. The priest becomes present with God in order to guide others in the same direction, up to God…. Moses’ priestly ascension is a recreation of the Eden ideal: humanity resting within God’s presence on a cosmic mountain temple.
And also like Moses, the high priest exclusively ascends into the presence of God so that he might talk and pray to God on behalf of the people. The high priest symbolically ascends into the cosmos by going past the veil in the tabernacle that divides human’s space from God’s space—up into the transcendent presence of God.
Not long after becoming king David. goes up into the high hills at the center of Israel’s tribes and establishes a capital city, Jerusalem, otherwise known as Zion or the City of David … So the temple is a symbolic model, pointing to the new Heaven and Earth, a place permeated with God’s presence where humanity would once again live in communion with his way of life and his will for all creation…. Regardless of whether or not the people were actually climbing in elevation or heading north, the biblical authors use the geographic description of going up.
As the people go up toward Jerusalem, they sing the psalms of ascent…
Having ascended up as he did, and as we will, Jesus now exists permanently in both God’s space and humanity’s space at once. Adam and Eve experienced this kind of overlapping togetherness with God only in part. But Jesus experiences it fully because he chose to follow God’s will from beginning to end.
But as we have seen, this almost certainly does not mean floating off into space one day when we die. Instead it means joining our human lives into God’s divine work of spreading his word and life here on Earth. It is about declaring that “your will, not my will” be done on Earth (humanity’s space) as it is in Heaven (God’s space) — BibleProject, full article: https://bibleproject.com/articles/the-ascension-of-jesus/
FILMS SHOWING ASCENSION:
- The Ascension of Christ in film: literalism, symbolism, etc.by Peter Chattaway in Patheos: https://www.patheos.com/blogs/filmchat/2014/05/the-ascension-of-christ-in-film-literalism-symbolism-etc.html
God isn’t waiting for you to become thinner or heterosexual or married or celibate or more ladylike or less crazy or more spiritual or less of an alcoholic in order to love you. Also, I would argue that since your ideal self doesn’t actually exist, it would follow that the “you” everyone in your life loves is your actual self, too. — Nadia Bolz-Weber
The best things in life are often waiting for you at the exit ramp of your comfort zone. — Karen Salmansohn
If you spend your whole life waiting for the storm, you’ll never enjoy the sunshine. — Morris West
Whatever we are waiting for – peace of mind, contentment, grace, the inner awareness of simple abundance – it will surely come to us, but only when we are ready to receive it with an open and grateful heart. — Sarah Ban Breathnach
Hope is not a matter of waiting for things outside of us to get better. It is about getting better inside about what is going on outside. — Joan Chittister
When you’re getting ready to launch into space, you’re sitting on a big explosion waiting to happen.— Sally Ride
When you’ve seen beyond yourself, then you may find, peace of mind is waiting there. — George Harrison
Perhaps all the dragons of our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us once beautiful and brave. — Rainer Maria Rilke
You can’t stay in your corner of the forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes. — A. A. Milne
Those who stand at the threshold of life always waiting for the right time to change are like the man who stands at the bank of a river waiting for the water to pass so he can cross on dry land. — Joseph B. Wirthlin
Patience is not simply the ability to wait – it’s how we behave while we’re waiting. — Joyce Meyer
Infuse your life with action. Don’t wait for it to happen. Make it happen. Make your own future. Make your own hope. Make your own love. And whatever your beliefs, honor your creator, not by passively waiting for grace to come down from upon high, but by doing what you can to make grace happen… yourself, right now, right down here on Earth.— Bradley Whitford
WHAT WE NEED IS HERE
— Wendell Berry
Horseback on Sunday morning,
harvest over, we taste persimmon
and wild grape, sharp sweet
of summer’s end. In time’s maze
over fall fields, we name names
that rest on graves. We open
a persimmon seed to find the tree
that stands in promise,
pale, in the seed’s marrow.
Geese appear high over us,
pass, and the sky closes. Abandon,
as in love or sleep, holds
them to their way, clear
in the ancient faith: what we need
is here. And we pray, not
for new earth or heaven, but to be
quiet in heart, and in eye,
clear. What we need is here.
WHAT IS THERE BEYOND KNOWING?— Mary Oliver
What is there beyond knowing that keeps
calling to me? I can’t
turn in any direction
but it’s there. I don’t mean
the leaves’ grip and shine or even the thrush’s
silk song, but the far-off
fires, for example,
of the stars, heaven’s slowly turning
theater of light, or the wind
playful with its breath;
or time that’s always rushing forward,
or standing still
in the same — what shall I say —
What I know
I could put into a pack
as if it were bread and cheese, and carry it
on one shoulder,
important and honorable, but so small!
While everything else continues, unexplained
and unexplainable. How wonderful it is
to follow a thought quietly
to its logical end.
I have done this a few times.
But mostly I just stand in the dark field,
in the middle of the world, breathing
in and out. Life so far doesn’t have any other name
but breath and light, wind and rain.
If there’s a temple, I haven’t found it yet.
I simply go on drifting, in the heaven of the grass
and the weeds.
Heaven is not an eternally dull existence but rather the completion of a journey toward a promised encounter with the Lord. — Pope Francis
Basically heaven and earth in biblical cosmology are not two different locations within the same continuum of space or matter. They are two different dimensions of God’s good creation. And the point about heaven is twofold. First, heaven relates to earth tangentially so that the one who is in heaven can be present simultaneously anywhere and everywhere on earth: the ascension therefore means that Jesus is available, accessible, without people having to travel to a particular spot on earth to find him. Second, heaven is, as it were, the control room for earth; it is the CEO’s office, the place from which instructions are given. “All authority is given to me,” said Jesus at the end of Matthew’s gospel, “in heaven and on earth. — NT Wright
Throughout the Bible, the biblical authors use “the skies” or “the heavens” to refer to the place where God lives—God’s space. And they use “land” or “the earth” to refer to the place where people live—humanity’s space. The key here is that both spaces were included in the natural, created world. So why do we say that God is “up there” when he is also right here?
When ancient Hebrew writers talk about geographic locations and spatial relationships in the physical world, they often use these physical descriptions to represent a higher, transcendent reality. For example, death and emptiness are down or under in Sheol. And because God is transcendent, or above all, his space is described metaphorically as being above, or up, or in the heavens.
The most important thing to see here is that God is not ultimately creating a supernatural place where he lives separated from humans. God’s vision for Heaven and Earth—God’s space and humanity’s space—is that both would be fully integrated as one. God’s space and our space are to overlap, “on Earth as it is in Heaven” — BibleProject
….the final book of the Bible promises us a new heaven and a new earth. (Revelation 21:1), not an escape from earth. We focused on “going” to heaven instead of living on earth as Jesus did—which makes heaven and earth one. It is heaven all the way to heaven. — Richard Rohr
OTHER THOUGHTS on ASCENSION
Ascensions into heaven are like falling leaves … sad and happy all at the same time … Going away isn’t really sad … especially when your going enables a new kind of presence to be born. — Ernest Hemingway
Heaven is under our feet as well as over our heads. — Henry David Thoreau
Earth’s crammed with heaven… But only he who sees, takes off his shoes. — Elizabeth Barrett Browning
The connections we make in the course of a life–maybe that’s what heaven is. — Fred Rogers
There’s always another level up. There’s always another ascension. More grace, more light, more generosity, more compassion, more to shed, more to grow. — Elizabeth GilbertAh, paths of the soul, mysterious ways of the heart! One must walk their full lengths before facing the supreme equation of Eternal Life. It is essential for you to live all their conflicts and to know them fully in the long process of spiritual ascension. — Andre Luiz Moreira
To write the true natural history of the world, we should need to be able to follow it from within. It would thus appear no longer as an interlocking succession of structural types replacing one another, but as an ascension of inner sap spreading out in a forest of consolidated instincts. Right at its base, the living world is constituted by conscious clothes in flesh and bone. — Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
The Ascension is actually the birth of the Inner You expressed as the spiritual individualism of the inner particle state. — Stuart Wilde
Aging is a staircase – the upward ascension of the human spirit, bringing us into wisdom, wholeness and authenticity. As you may know, the entire world operates on a universal law: entropy, the second law of thermodynamics. Entropy means that everything in the world, everything, is in a state of decline and decay, the arch. There’s only one exception to this universal law, and that is the human spirit, which can continue to evolve upwards. — Jane Fonda
Through the Holy Spirit comes our restoration to paradise, our ascension into the kingdom of heaven, our return to the adoption of sons, our liberty to call God our Father, our being made partakers of the grace of Christ, our being called children of light, our sharing in eternal glory, and, in a word, our being brought into a state of all “fulness of blessing,” both in this world and in the world to come, of all the good gifts that are in store for us, by promise hereof, through faith, beholding the reflection of their grace as though they were already present, we await the full enjoyment. — Saint Basil
LEAVINGS – VI
— Wendell Berry
O saints, if I am even eligible for this prayer,
though less than worthy of this dear desire,
and if your prayers have influence in Heaven,
let my place there be lower than your own.
I know how you longed, here where you lived
as exiles, for the presence of the essential
Being and Maker and Knower of all things.
But because of my unruliness, or some erring
virtue in me never rightly schooled,
some error clear and dear, my life
has not taught me your desire for flight:
dismattered, pure, and free. I long
instead for the Heaven of creatures, of seasons,
of day and night. Heaven enough for me
would be this world as I know it, but redeemed
of our abuse of it and one another. It would be
the Heaven of knowing again. There is no marrying
in Heaven, and I submit; even so, I would like
to know my wife again, both of us young again,
and I remembering always how I loved her
when she was old. I would like to know
my children again, all my family, all my dear ones,
to see, to hear, to hold, more carefully
than before, to study them lingeringly as one
studies old verses, committing them to heart
forever. I would like again to know my friends,
my old companions, men and women, horses
and dogs, in all the ages of our lives, here
in this place that I have watched over all my life
in all its moods and seasons, never enough.
I will be leaving how many beauties overlooked?
A painful Heaven this would be, for I would know
by it how far I have fallen short. I have not
paid enough attention, I have not been grateful
enough. And yet this pain would be the measure
of my love. In eternity’s once and now, pain would
place me surely in the Heaven of my earthly love.
This is why there are times when the most instructive question to bring to the text is not “what does it say?” but “what am I looking for?” I suspect Jesus knew this when he said, “ask and it will be given to you, seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened.” — Rachel Held Evans
Why are you knocking at every door? Go, knock at the door of your own heart. — Rumi
On the other hand, ‘Knock and it shall be opened.’ But does knocking mean hammering and kicking the door like a maniac? — C.S. Lewis
The moment we begin to seek out love, love begins to seek us out. And to save us. — Paulo Coelho
Always the beautiful answer / who asks a more beautiful question. —e.e. Cummings
Contextually speaking, love is the narrow gate. — Jayson Bradley
We often remain exiles, left outside the rich world of the soul, simply because we are not ready. Our task is to refine our hearts and minds. There is so much blessing and beauty near us that is destined for us, and yet it cannot enter our lives because we are not ready to receive it. The handle is on the inside of the door; only we can open it. Our lack of readiness is often caused by blindness, fear, and lack of self-appreciation. When we are ready, we will be blessed. — John O’Donohue
SONGS about KNOCKING & ASKING:
- Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door by Guns n Roses (rock anthem)
- Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door by Bob Dylan (rock anthem)
- First by Lauren Daigle (Christian)
- Hide and Seek cover by virtual choir of song by Imogen Heap (pop ballad)
- Let ‘Em In by Paul McCartney (rock)
- Find My Way by Fearless Soul (pop ballad)
- I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking by U2 & Gospel Choir (Christian rock)
- Knocking at the Door by The Arkells (rock anthem)
- Knock on Wood by James Taylor (pop/folk)
- Ask Seek Knock by Hillsong Kids (Christian)
- Keep A’Knockin’ by Louis Jordan (big band)
- A Love Like Yours by Martha & The Vandellas (rock)
- I Hear You Knocking by Dave Edmunds (rock)
- Can’t You Hear Me Knocking? by Rolling Stones (rock)
- It’ll Be Me by Jerry Lee Lewis (rock)
- Keep a Knockin’ by Little Richard (rock)
- Don’t Come Knockin by Fats Domino (rock)
- Crazy Little Mama Come Knockin‘ by Pat Boone (rock)
- What if I Came Knocking? by John Mellencamp (rock/country)
- Love Is Knocking by Petit Cheval (rock)
- Who Can It Be Now? by Men at Work (rock)
- Knock On Any Door by Jackson Browne (rock ballad)
Resource for more listening and studying: Podcast about Ask and You Will Receive (from BibleProject)
Blessing the Door — Jan Richardson (link to poem)
First let us say / a blessing
upon all who have / entered here before / us.
You can see the sign / of their passage / by the worn place
where their hand rested / on the doorframe
as they walked through, / the smooth sill
of the threshold / where they crossed.
Press your ear / to the door
for a moment before / you enter
and you will hear / their voices murmuring
words you cannot / quite make out
but know / are full of welcome.
On the other side / these ones who wait—
for you, / if you do not / know by now—
understand what / a blessing can do
how it appears like / nothing you expected
how it arrives as / visitor,
outrageous invitation, / child;
how it takes the form / of angel / or dream
how it comes / in words like
How can this be? / and lifted up the lowly;
how it sounds like / in the wilderness / prepare the way.
Those who wait / for you know
how the mark of / a true blessing
is that it will take you / where you did not / think to go.
Once through this door / there will be more:
more doors / more blessings
more who watch and / wait for you
but here / at this door of / beginning
the blessing cannot / be said without you.
So lay your palm / against the frame
that those before you / touched
place your feet / where others paused / in this entryway.
Say the thing that / you most need
and the door will / open wide
and by this word / the door is blessed
and by this word / the blessing is begun
from which / door by door
all the rest / will come.
Text from which we’re drawing this week’s themes: MATTHEW 7: 7-14
Ask, Seek, Knock – ‘Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.’
‘Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.’
The Golden Rule – In everything do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets.’
The Narrow Gate – ‘Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road is easy that leads to destruction, and there are many who take it. 14 For the gate is narrow and the road is hard that leads to life, and there are few who find it.’
Listen! I am standing at the door, knocking; if you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to you and eat with you, and you with me.
COMMENTARY on ENTERING through the NARROW GATE
It’s a life long “finding,” of surrendering to the process of God at work in us. But WE choose that posture of surrender. We choose to open the gate and walk upon the narrow road. And really, what other choice is there to make? —Elisabeth Elliott (full article)
Do for others what you wish others would do for you. Do you want to be treated with respect? Respect others. Do you expect compassion and the benefit of the doubt? Extend it to others. Do you want to be served? Serve others. He then tells us this one principle sums up the entire Old Testament. … Contextually speaking, love is the narrow gate ... All the destruction, pain and turmoil in life comes from our inability to put others first. Love leads to life, both here and in the world to come. —Jayson Bradley, Patheos (full article)
The word change normally refers to new beginnings. But transformation, the mystery we’re examining, more often happens not when something new begins, but when something old falls apart. The pain of something old falling apart—chaos—invites the soul to listen at a deeper level. It invites, and sometimes forces, the soul to go to a new place because the old place is falling apart. Most of us would never go to new places in any other way…. This is when you need patience, guidance, and the freedom to let go instead of tightening your controls and certitudes. Perhaps Jesus is describing this phenomenon when he says, “It is a narrow gate and a hard road that leads to life, and only a few find it” … In moments of insecurity and crisis, shoulds and oughts don’t really help; they just increase the shame, guilt, pressure, and likelihood of backsliding. It’s the deep yesses that carry us through. It’s that deeper something we are strongly for that allows us to wait it out. — Richard Rohr (full article)
Contemplation is meeting as much reality as we can handle in its most simple and immediate form, without filters, judgments, and commentaries. Now you see why it is so rare and, in fact, “the narrow road that few walk on” … The only way you can contemplate is by recognizing and relativizing your own compulsive mental grids—your practiced ways of judging, critiquing, blocking, and computing everything… When your mental judgmental grid and all its commentaries are placed aside, God finally has a chance to get through to you, because your pettiness is at last out of the way. Then Truth stands revealed! You will begin to recognize that we all carry the Divine Indwelling within us and we all carry it equally. That will change your theology, your politics, and your entire worldview. In fact, it is the very birth of the soul. — Richard Rohr (full article)
I have lived on the lip of insanity, wanting to know reasons, knocking on a door. It opens. I’ve been knocking from the inside. — Rumi
ON KNOCKING at DOORS
If you only knock long enough and loud enough at the gate, you’re sure to wake someone up. — Henry Wordsworth Longfellow
The exclusion of the weak and insignificant, the seemingly useless people, from a Christian community may actually mean the exclusion of Christ; in the poor brother Christ is knocking at the door. — Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Go to your bosom: Knock there, and ask your heart what it doth know. — William Shakespeare
Even when opportunity knocks, a man still has to get up off his seat and open the door. — Douglas MacArthur
If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door. — Proverb (attributed to Milton Berle)
A pessimist is somebody who complains about the noise when opportunity knocks. — Oscar Wilde
The most sacred invitation that a person can extend to us is to invite us into their pain. But that means that we have to choose to knock on a door that we often prefer to pretend is not there. ― Craig D. Lounsbrough
Rain puts a hole in stone because of its constancy, not its force. Just keep knocking on doors until the right one opens — Joseph Gerber
Opportunity may knock only once but temptation leans on the door bell — Oprah Winfrey
The first time when I was organizing, I went out and started knocking on doors to see if people were registered to vote. I was a door knocker. I didn’t even have the confidence that I could register people, so I just was out there door knocking. That was my first experience. — Dolores Huerta
Guest House — Mawlana Jalal-al-Din Rumi
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
Love seeks only one thing: the good of the loved. It leaves all other secondary effects to take care of themselves. There, love is its own reward. — Thomas Merton
There are times to stay put, and what you want will come to you, and there are times to go out into the world and find such a thing for yourself. ― Lemony Snicket
I go to seek a Great Perhaps. That’s why I’m going. So I don’t have to wait until I die to start seeking a Great Perhaps.― John Green
And I shall seek you endlessly, for
I am a moth, and you’re my flame
Knowing that I’ll burn at your touch
I return, for you’re a fire; untamed …
― Zubair Ahsan
…there was no point in sighing after what I could not have. It only distracted me from what I did have. ― Robin Hobb
Seeking what is true is not seeking what is desirable. ― Albert Camus
Very few beings really seek knowledge in this world. Mortal or immortal, few really ask. On the contrary, they try to wring from the unknown the answers they have already shaped in their own minds — justifications, confirmations, forms of consolation without which they can’t go on. To really ask is to open the door to the whirlwind. The answer may annihilate the question and the questioner. ― Anne Rice
Thus Gotama [Buddha] walked toward the town to gather alms, and the two samanas recognized him solely by the perfection of his repose, by the calmness of his figure, in which there was no trace of seeking, desiring, imitating, or striving, only light and peace. ― Hermann Hesse
WHEN TRUTH KNOCKS: Buddhist Story
A young widower was devoted to his little son. But while he was away on business, the whole village was burned to the ground by bandits, who also kidnapped the little boy. When the father returned and found only ruins, he was utterly heartbroken. He thought that the charred remains of a little child were of his son, so he organized a full cremation, collected the ashes, and carried them with him always in a special bag.
One day, his son managed to escape from the bandit kidnappers and made his way back to his home. In the meantime, his father had rebuilt the house. When the little boy arrived late one night, he knocked on the door. His father, kneeling at the altar he had made to memorialize his son called out, “Who’s there?”
“It’s me, your son; please papa, let me in!”
The father, still burdened by his grief thought this must be some wretched boy making fun of his grieving and shouted out, “Go away! Leave me alone! My son is dead!”
The boy knocked again and again, calling for his father to open the door and let him in. The father, refusing to answer the door kept calling out, “Go away! Leave me alone!” And at last, the boy gave up and went away, never to return again.
After he had told this story, the Buddha added: “If you cling to an idea as the unalterable truth, then when the truth comes and knocks on your door, you will not be able to open the door and accept it.”
COMMENTARY on KNOCKING & ASKING
The exclusion of the weak and insignificant, the seemingly useless people, from a Christian community may actually mean the exclusion of Christ; in the poor brother Christ is knocking at the door. — Dietrich Bonhoeffer
It seems to me that Jesus’ words are a clear directive. Ask, Jesus says. Seek. Knock.
And then, if I’ve got this right, Jesus follows up a few verses later by saying that God will actually respond … To me. To you. To, oh, anyone who asks. And God will do it without discretion or conditions. Without caution or prudence. Without making a list first of who has a right to which truth or who will handle the answers the best.
The revolutionary, almost subversive, thing about asking is that it goes beyond making it OK to have secret questions and inner doubts and gives us permission to raise our hands in God’s classroom with a “Pardon me, but I don’t get it.” Or “Really, God? Can you explain further?” Or “I just can’t bring myself to believe what the rest of your class is telling me.”
I suspect … that we’re somehow expected to keep asking. Out loud. And to keep seeking. And to keep knocking …
… questions fall out all over the place, raw and beautiful in their authenticity … making people uncomfortable – or giddy … the way we engage our conversations may be more important than our conclusions, for if we abandon love, kindness, forbearance and gentleness in favor of fear, self-righteousness and anger, what have we gained with a mere conclusion? And the second thing she said is I wonder if we trust Jesus to be enough?
…. “What if the root word of aspiration isn’t only to aspire to? What if the root word of aspiration is also to aspirate? To expel or dislodge the things that make people choke? To tell a truth that is so wild and so free that it helps people learn to breathe? What if you’re called to be that kind of aspiration?” And I thought, by God, if this life is about helping people breathe, I can do that.
Ask. Seek. Knock. Breathe.
I used to prefer for God to live in a box. Neat and tidy. Quiet and nice. Now my life is full of questions. It’s messier and louder, more disruptive and fulfilling, than I imagined. And I? I can finally breathe. — Betth Woolsey (full article)
Meanwhile, where is God? This is one of the most disquieting symptoms. When you are happy, so happy that you have no sense of needing Him, so happy that you are tempted to feel His claims upon you as an interruption, if you remember yourself and turn to Him with gratitude and praise, you will be — or so it feels — welcomed with open arms. But go to Him when your need is desperate, when all other help is vain, and what do you find? A door slammed in your face, and a sound of bolting and double bolting on the inside. After that, silence. You may as well turn away. The longer you wait, the more emphatic the silence will become. There are no lights in the windows. It might be an empty house. Was it ever inhabited? It seemed so once. And that seeming was as strong as this. What can this mean? Why is He so present a commander in our time of prosperity and so very absent a help in time of trouble?
… He reminded me that the same thing seems to have happened to Christ: ‘Why hast thou forsaken me?’ I know. Does that make it easier to understand?
… Of course it’s easy enough to say that God seems absent at our greatest need because He is absent — non-existent. But then why does He seem so present when, to put it frankly, we don’t ask for Him?
… And so, perhaps, with God. I have gradually come to feel that the door is no longer shut and bolted. Was it my own frantic need that slammed it in my face? The time when there is nothing at all in your soul except a cry for help … Perhaps your own reiterated cries deafen you to the voice you hoped to hear. — C.S. Lewis (article)
Mystery is what happens to us when we allow life to evolve rather than having to make it happen all the time. It is the strange knock at the door, the sudden sight of an unceremoniously blooming flower, an afternoon in the yard, a day of riding the midtown bus. Just to see. Just to notice. Just to be there. There is something holy-making about simply presuming that what happens to us in any given day is sent to awaken our souls to something new: another smell, a different taste, a moment when we allow ourselves to lock eyes with a stranger, to smile a bit, to nod our heads in greeting. Who knows? Maybe one of those things will open us to the refreshing memory of pain, a poignant reminder of glory, a breathless moment of astonishment, a sense of the presence of God in life. — Sr Joan Chittister (full article)
Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive. — Brene Brown
Ask for help. Not because you are weak. But because you want to remain strong. — Les Brown
I was looking for myself and asking everyone but myself questions which I, and only I, could answer. — Ralph Ellison
A beautiful question is an ambitious yet actionable question that can begin to shift the way we perceive or think about something—and that might serve as a catalyst to bring about change. — Warren Berger
Don’t be afraid to look again at everything you’ve ever believed … I believe the more we search, the more we delve into the human teachings about the nature and God of life, which are in fact are the teachings of all the great religions traditions, the closer we come to a mature understanding of the Godself … In other words, doubt, questions, drive us to look at how we ourselves need to grow in wisdom, age and grace. The courage to face questions is the first step in that process. — Joan Chittister
Instead of anxiety about chasing a passion that you’re not even feeling, do something a lot simpler: Just follow your curiosity. — Elizabeth Gilbert
A good question is never answered. It is not a bolt to be tightened into place but a seed to be planted and to bear more seed toward the hope of greening the landscape of idea. — John Anthony Ciardi
We live in the world our questions create. — David Cooperrider
Ask me not what I have, but what I am. — Heirnrich Heine
… Ask yourself these four questions: Why? Why not? Why not me? Why not now? — James Allen
You get in life what you have the courage to ask for. — Oprah Winfrey
Every time you are tempted to react in the same old way, ask if you want to be a prisoner of the past or a pioneer of the future. — Deepak Chopra
To ask the right question is harder than to answer it. — Georg Cantor
Contrary to some common assumptions, Jesus is not the ultimate Answer Man, but more like the Great Questioner. In the Gospels Jesus asks many more questions than he answers. To be precise, Jesus asks 307 questions. He is asked 183 of which he only answers 3. Asking questions was central to Jesus’ life and teachings. In fact, for every question he answers directly he asks—literally—a hundred. Jesus is the Question considers the questions Jesus asks—what they tell us about Jesus and, more important, what our responses might say about what it means to follow Him. Through Jesus’ questions, he modeled the struggle, the wondering, the thinking it through that helps us draw closer to God and better understand, not just the answer, but ourselves, our process and ultimately why questions are among Jesus’ most profound gifts for a life of faith. — Martin Copenhaver