I feel so much love over my soul,
it is like an Ocean I immerse and lose myself in:
it is my vision on earth while waiting
for the face-to-face vision in light.
[God] is in me, I am in Him.
I have only to love Him,
to let myself be loved,
all the time, through all things:
to wake in Love,
to move in Love,
to sleep in Love,
my Soul in His Soul,
my heart in His Heart,
my eyes in His eyes …
—Elizabeth of the Trinity
If there is love, there is hope that one may have real families, real brotherhood, real equanimity, real peace. — His Holiness the Dalai Lama
… the poems both affirm human love, but also show how it is itself only a pointer to something more grand and more sublime. The book never mentions God’s love, but all the links back to the garden of Eden make the point by themselves. Who is the author of life and human experience? And who, therefore, is the author of this powerful experience we call “love?” It’s none other than the Author of all reality, who has given humans a great gift and responsibility in our bodies, minds and hearts when it comes to sexual love. — BibleProject
We do not necessarily need to become religious, nor even believe in an ideology. We need only to develop our good human qualities and know that love and compassion are the most essential concepts for human survival. — His Holiness the Dalai Lama
… the good life consists of right relationships—between man and woman [covenant partners], between humanity and the earth, and between humanity and God. In the love described in the Song, we see a reflection of the love that first called the world into being (Proverbs 8), that continues to sustain it season by season (Ecclesiastes 3), and that will bring it to new life beyond death itself (Revelation 21). — Kathryn M. Schifferdecker
SONGS about LOVE as SACRED UNION:
- Wedding Song (There Is Love) by Peter, Paul, and Mary (folk): https://youtu.be/xxxsTYHvWa4
- All You Need Is Love by The Beatles (rock): https://youtu.be/_7xMfIp-irg
- Song of Songs by Ryan Malone (CHristian/choir/orchestra): https://youtu.be/IrBcbq0SByY
- Dark Night of the Soul by Loreena McKennitt (St Johnof Cross/Christian): https://youtu.be/MclLF473XtA
- God Bless the Broken Road by Rascal Flatts (country): https://youtu.be/FaQHyHwFgeg
- Love Aboundeth in All Things performed by St. Stanislav Girls’ Choir (Hildegard of Bingen / Christian): https://youtu.be/F3yEi782RC8
- Song of Solomon performed by All Souls Orchestra ft Martin Smith (Christian/orchestra/vocal): https://youtu.be/zyIR4N5EFt8
- Come by Prayana (Rumi song – vocal/piano/contemplative): https://youtu.be/DY_kysjyB8U
- Chant to the Holy Angels performed by Harpa Dei (Hildegard of Bingen / Christian chant): https://youtu.be/yjIAXI2xkEM
- Where Everything is Music by Prayana (Rumi song – vocal/piano/contemplative): https://youtu.be/C-aBaGqJmI0
- O Ignitus Spiritus performed by Harpa Dei (Hildegard of Bingen / Christian chant): (https://youtu.be/yNiRNiqzRsc
- O Deep Love of Jesus ft Simon Khorolskiy (Christian/fiddle&vocal): https://youtu.be/KLTu1xv2-Us
Don’t go anywhere without me.
— Rumi, translated by Coleman Barks
Don’t go anywhere without me.
Let nothing happen in the sky apart from me,
or on the ground, in this world or that world,
without my being in its happening.
Vision, see nothing I don’t see.
Language, say nothing.
The way the night knows itself with the moon,
be that with me. Be the rose
nearest to the thorn that I am.
I want to feel myself in you when you taste food,
in the arc of your mallet when you work,
when you visit friends, when you go
up on the roof by yourself at night.
There’s nothing worse than to walk out along the street
without you. I don’t know where I’m going.
You’re the road, and the knower of roads,
more than maps, more than love.
O, happy lot!
Forth unobserved I went,
My house being now at rest.
O, happy lot!
n darkness and concealment,
My house being now at rest.
Seeing nought myself,
Without other light or guide
Save that which in my heart was burning.
To the place where He was waiting for me,
Whom I knew well,
And where none appeared.
O, night that hast united
The lover with His beloved,
And changed her into her love.
There He reposed and slept;
And I cherished Him, and the waving
Of the cedars fanned Him.
He struck me on the neck
With His gentle hand,
And all sensation left me.
O glistening sunlight — Sr. Hildegarde of Bingen
O glistening starlight,
O most brilliant singular figure
of the royal marriage,
O glowing gem:
You are arrayed as a person of high rank
who has no mark nor wrinkle;You are also an angel’s companion
and a citizen of sacredness.
Run, flee from the ancient destroyer’s cave!
Come, enter into the palace of the King.
COMMENTARY on SONG of SONGS from Jewish and Christian Scholars
All eternity is not as worthwhile as the day the Song of Songs was given to Israel, for all biblical books are holy, but the Song of Songs is holy of holies.— R. Aqiva (m. Yadayim 3:5), 2nd c. CE
אין כל העולם כלו כדאי כיום שניתן בו שיר השירים לישראל שכל כתובים קדש ושיר השירים קודש קדשים The Song of Songs, along with the books of Proverbs and Ecclesiastes, is related to Solomon as the source of Israel’s wisdom literature. As Moses is the source [though not the only author] of the Torah, and David is the source [though not the author] of the book of Psalms, so is Solomon the father of the wisdom tradition in Israel… The connection of the Song of Songs to Solomon in the Hebrew Bible sets these writings within the context of wisdom literature. – Brevard Childs, Introduction to the Old Testament as Scripture (21st c).
The Song of Songs, a duet scored for two young lovers, each delighting in the other, longing for one another’s presence, is one of the central books of Tanach and the key that unlocks the rest. It is about love as the holy of holies of human life. It is about the love of Israel for God and God for Israel, and the fact that it is written as the story of two young and human lovers is also fundamental, for it tells us that to separate human and Divine love is to allocate one to the body, the other to the soul, is a false distinction. Love is the energy God has planted in the human heart, redeeming us from narcissism and solipsism, making the human or Divine Other no less real to me than I am to myself, thus grounding our being in that-which-is-not-me. One cannot love God without loving all that is good in the human situation. Love creates. Love reveals. Love redeems. Love is the connection between God and us. That is the faith of Judaism, and if we do not understand this we will not understand it at all. We will, for example, fail to realise that the demands God makes of His people through the prophets are expressions of love, that what Einstein called Judaism’s “almost fanatical love of justice” is about love no less than justice, that the Torah is God’s marriage contract with the Jewish people, and the mitzvot are all invitations to love: “I see You with all my heart; do not let me stray from Your commands” (Ps. 119:10).” — Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, Ceremony & Celebration, 21st c.
… In short, there are two primary interpretations of the Song of Songs. The traditional interpretation is that it is an allegory of the love between God and Israel or between Christ and the Church. The dominant interpretation in modern times is that it is nothing more than ancient erotic love poetry.
I would argue that the Song is both of these things. It is a celebration of the love of a man and a woman for one another, a love “strong as death” (Song of Solomon 8:6), a love reflected in the renewed life of the earth itself (Song of Solomon 2:10-13). At the same time, the Song is also a celebration of the love between Christ and the Church, a love that is in fact stronger than death, sealed by the Resurrection.
As Phyllis Trible and Ellen Davis have both argued, the Song is a reversal of the curses of Eden. The relationship between man and woman is restored. In place of Eve’s punishment in Genesis 3:16 (“your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you”), the woman in the Song declares, “I am my beloved’s, and his desire is for me.”6 In fact, the woman’s is the dominant voice in the Song. She is in a full, robust, and mutual relationship with her beloved.
The rupture between humanity and the earth is also restored. Here, in the garden of the Song, there are no thorns and thistles (see Genesis 3:17-19). Indeed, the earth itself rejoices with the lovers.
Finally, the rupture between humanity and God is restored, if one understands the Song allegorically, as interpreters have done for 2000 years. One of the dominant biblical metaphors for the relationship between God and Israel (and later, Christ and the Church) is that of marriage. This metaphor takes some troubling turns in the prophets (see Hosea), but in the Song, the marriage is healed and renewed and rooted in love, love as fierce as the grave, love unquenchable (Song of Solomon 8:6-7).— Kathryn M. Schifferdecker, full article: https://www.workingpreacher.org/commentaries/narrative-lectionary/preaching-series-on-o-t-wisdom-and-poetry/commentary-on-proverbs-11-7-31-8, (21st c).
The Song of Songs is a collection of love poetry. The Rabbis read it as an allegory of the relationship between God and the Jewish people. Only in the Middle Ages, in Spain and Northern France, did scholars begin to pay attention to the plain (Peshat) meaning of the text. Some went as far as dropping the allegory altogether and treating it as love poetry, as it was originally intended. — Dr. Barry Dov Walfish, (21st c).
King Solomon wrote this through the inspiration of the divine spirit, for he saw that Israel in their exile was destined to mourn God, who distanced himself from them like a groom who parted from his beloved. And he began to sing his song on behalf of the Community of Israel who is like a bride before him. — Rabbi Samuel ben Meir (ca. 1085-ca. 1160)
“God is love” (1 John 4:16) may be the single most important verse in the entire Bible …
Is it any wonder that many of the great Christian mystics are renowned as lovers of God? This can take a variety of forms: for some, being God’s lover is very ethereal and philosophically abstract; but for others, an embodied, physical, even erotic quality characterizes their mysticism of love. There is even a term—“bridal mysticism”—for the many mystics (both female and male) whose experience of profound love of God was so deep and all-encompassing that it led to a spiritual sense of being “married” to God …
[It’s important to] consider that this derives from the Bible itself. One of the loveliest books in the Hebrew Bible…. is the Song of Solomon, also called the Song of Songs or the Canticle of Canticles… It is the story of a bride and bridegroom, their passion for one another, their devotion to one another, and their (strongly hinted at) passion as physical lovers.
Historically, the Song of Songs has been read as a kind of allegory: the two lovers symbolize the caring relationship between God and Israel, or Christ and the Church, or Christ and the individual believer. This is where the mysticism of love comes in. — Cart McColman, full article: https://cac.org/daily-meditations/the-great-love-song-2021-05-11/ (21st c).
I think religion, especially when it comes to messages around our sexuality, causes a really particular type of harm in us. Now, the culture, the broader culture, also has some very damaging messages. There’s the commodificationwa of sex. You can “know” how worthy you are of desire according to how close you are to a body ideal. Once you’re too old, or too fat, or too plain, you’re no longer worthy of sexual desire and so there are these damaging messages that society gives us around the commodification of sex.
… messages from religion, those go down to our created place, our source code. Those seep into us in a very deep level and the difference is that the society has … our society has never said that the creator of the universe is disgusted by my cellulite. Do you know what I mean? So, the religious messages are saying, “This is God. God feels this way about you as a sexual being.” And that can be pernicious in a very particular way.
Well, Augustine interpreted the Garden of Eden story in a really particular way that we are so influenced by that we don’t even know the difference between the text and his interpretation. For instance, the word sin isn’t in there, the word temptation isn’t in there, the devil is not in there, “original sin” is not in there, fall from grace is not in there. All of that is stuff that Augustine interpreted into the Garden of Eden story. So then it’s like, “Okay, well who was Augustine?” Well, brilliant guy, however had some sexual hangups like all of us do. His original shame, his story, his original shame came from an incident in the bathhouse with his father when he was going through puberty and he had an erection and his father commented on it.
In the same way, the Song of Solomon is this beautiful erotic poem in the Bible, and it’s most likely the only book in the Bible that was possibly written by a woman, and it is mostly an erotic poem about a very shameless woman who has a lover and she loves her body and she loves their body and she loves sex and eroticism, and she has no shame about this. So what happens? Origen, another … church father comes along, and he goes, “No, that’s not about sex. That’s about Jesus’ love for the church. It’s just an allegory.” And okay, well who was Origen? Origen was this guy who was so terrified of sexual temptation, no kidding, he castrated himself…. Is that the guy we want to go to for direction?” — Rev Nadia Bolz-Weber, full interview: https://wanderlust.com/journal/sex-church-debunking-doctrine-desire/
I believe the meaning of the Resurrection of Jesus is summed up in the climactic line from the Song of Songs, “love is stronger than death” (8:6). If the blank white banner that the Risen Christ usually holds in Christian art should say anything, it should say: “Love will win!” Love is all that remains. Love and life are finally the same thing, and we know that for ourselves once we have walked through death.
Love has you. Love is you. Love alone, and your deep need for love, recognizes love everywhere else. Remember that you already are what you are seeking. Any fear “that your lack of fidelity could cancel God’s fidelity, is absurd” (Romans 3:3), says Paul. Love has finally overcome fear, and your house is being rebuilt on a new and solid foundation. This foundation was always there, but it takes us a long time to find it. “It is love alone that lasts” (1 Corinthians 13:13). All you have loved in your life and been loved by are eternal and true .. — Richard Rohr, full article: https://cac.org/daily-meditations/love-is-stronger-than-death-2020-03-27/, (21st c).
And in this vision, he showed me a little thing, the size of a hazelnut, lying in the palm of my hand, and to my mind’s eye it was as round as any ball. I looked at it and thought, ‘What can this be?’ And the answer came to me, ‘It is all that is made.’ I wondered how it could last, for it was so small I thought it might suddenly disappear. And the answer in my mind was, ‘It lasts and will last forever because God loves it; and in the same everything exists through the love of God.’
In this little thing I saw three attributes: the first is that God made it, the second is that he loves it, the third is that God cares for it. But what does this mean to me? Truly, the maker, the lover, the carer; for until I become one substance with him, I can never have love, rest or true bliss; that is to say, until I am so bound to him that there may be no created thing between my God and me. — Julian of Norwich
— Hildegard of Bingen
Loving tenderness abounds for all
from the darkest
to the most eminent one beyond the stars,
Exquisitely loving all
she bequeaths the kiss of peace
upon the ultimate King.
THERE IS NO GOING BACK – Wendell Berry
No, no, there is no going back.
Less and less you are
that possibility you were.
More and more you have become
those lives and deaths
that have belonged to you.
You have become a sort of grave
containing much that was
and is no more in time, beloved
then, now, and always.
And so you have become a sort of tree
standing over a grave.
Now more than ever you can be
generous toward each day
that comes, young, to disappear
forever, and yet remain
unaging in the mind.
Every day you have less reason
not to give yourself away.
THE WHISTLER — Mary Oliver
All of a sudden she began to whistle. By all of a sudden
I mean that for more than thirty years she had not
whistled. It was thrilling. At first I wondered, who was
in the house, what stranger? I was upstairs reading, and
she was downstairs. As from the throat of a wild and
cheerful bird, not caught but visiting, the sounds war-
bled and slid and doubled back and larked and soared.
Finally I said, Is that you? Is that you whistling? Yes, she
said. I used to whistle, a long time ago. Now I see I can
still whistle. And cadence after cadence she strolled
through the house, whistling.
I know her so well, I think. I thought. Elbow and an-
kle. Mood and desire. Anguish and frolic. Anger too.
And the devotions. And for all that, do we even begin
to know each other? Who is this I’ve been living with
for thirty years?
This clear, dark, lovely whistler?
“in love I am more God than I am in myself.” … “It sounds wondrous, that the human being is thus able to become God in love; however, it is true in the eternal truth.” — Meister Eckhart
Covenant love is conscious love. It is intentional love. It is commitment to love no matter what. It requires thought and action. It does not wait for the encouragement of warm emotions but chooses to look out for the interest of the other party because you are committed to the other’s well-being.
Covenant love requires two factors: knowledge of the nature of love and the will to love. Understanding the 5 love languages will give you the information you need to have a successful long term covenant love relationship. Hopefully, as you see the benefits of covenant love, you will also find the will to love. — Gary Chapman
God willeth that we understand [this], desiring with all our heart to have knowing of them [Trinity] more and more unto the time that we be fulfilled: for fully to know them is nought else but endless joy and bliss that we shall have in Heaven, which God willeth should be begun here in knowing of His love. — Julian of Norwich
Peace does not rest in the charters and covenants alone. It lies in the hearts and minds of all people. So let us not rest all our hopes on parchment and on paper, let us strive to build peace, a desire for peace, a willingness to work for peace in the hearts and minds of all of our people. I believe that we can. I believe the problems of human destiny are not beyond the reach of human beings. — John F. Kennedy
We are already one. But we imagine we are not. And what we have to recover is our original unity. What we have to be is what we already are. — Thomas Merton
This is our great covenant:
To dwell together in peace,
To seek the truth in love,
And to help one another.
— James Vila Blake
We are already in union with God! There is an absolute, eternal union between God and the soul of everything. — Fr. Richard Rohr
Sometimes we feel empty; we feel a vacuum, a great lack of something. We don’t know the cause; it’s very vague, but that feeling of being empty inside is very strong. We expect and hope for something much better so we’ll feel less alone, less empty. The desire to understand ourselves and to understand life is a deep thirst. There’s also the deep thirst to be loved and to love. We are ready to love and be loved. It’s very natural. But because we feel empty, we try to find an object of our love. Sometimes we haven’t had the time to understand ourselves, yet we’ve already found the object of our love. When we realize that all our hopes and expectations of course can’t be fulfilled by that person, we continue to feel empty. You want to find something, but you don’t know what to search for. In everyone there’s a continuous desire and expectation; deep inside, you still expect something better to happen. That is why you check your email many times a day!
In a deep relationship, there’s no longer a boundary between you and the other person. You are her and she is you. Your suffering is her suffering. Your understanding of your own suffering helps your loved one to suffer less. Suffering and happiness are no longer individual matters. What happens to your loved one happens to you. What happens to you happens to your loved one. …
In true love, there’s no more separation or discrimination. His happiness is your happiness. Your suffering is his suffering. — Thich Nhat Hanh
God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. — Reinhold Niebuhr
SONGS about WISDOM:
- Sophia Sing to Me – Song about Lady Wisdom by Andy Rogers (folk): https://youtu.be/e-n8eNy_2Ww
- Only Love by Jordan Smith, covered by Fearless Soul (contemporary/pop): https://youtu.be/EDVYKRy0xQU
- Believe by Fearless Soul (contempirary): https://youtu.be/5OsYCUSIDEE
- Inner World Wisdom – Dalai Lama (contemplative – spoken/instrumental): https://youtu.be/9GRijWOdd8U
- Sophia, Angel of Wisdom by Susan Lincoln and Craig Toungate (vocal/sacred/world music): https://youtu.be/H14snIEXYRA
- Perfect Wisdom of our God by Keith & Kristyn Getty(Christian): : https://youtu.be/hSnzYnOe6kIhttps://youtu.be/hSnzYnOe6kI
- The Love of Sophia by Taos Wind Music (contemplative): https://youtu.be/MsSi6hDg3cA
- Find Your Way by Fearless Soul (contempiorary): https://youtu.be/OdOV6qDwOP4
- Wisdom of the World by Bahamas Music (contemporary): https://youtu.be/wS3TtjMUP_M
- Wisdom Song by Laura Woodley Osman (Christian): https://youtu.be/tMnIVe4-QUY
- Sophia’s Song by Theodore Slipchinsky (celtic/folk): https://youtu.be/g5y58Mcu53Y
- Wisdom of the World by Catherine Warwick (world music/contemporary): https://youtu.be/9VYlaZR8MFg
- W.I.S.D.O.M. Song (Christian childrens music): https://youtu.be/EDJzWIghkz4
- Foolish the Wisdom of the World by St. Andrew the Great (Christian): https://youtu.be/Xg0nhvBofpM
- Hymn to Sophia by Lisa Dancing-Light (folk): https://youtu.be/PPwbQr8LQNw
- I Am Already Enough by Fearless Soul/Rachael Schroeder (contemporary): https://youtu.be/kFQ7qiqm6WA
MY WISDOM (excerpt) — Naomi Shihab Nye
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.
SONG: Here I Am by Air Supply: https://youtu.be/B6rXBLRo_GU
POEM:Rumi: Here I Am (excerpt): … In the silence surrounding every call of ‘Allah’
Waits a thousand replies of ‘Here I am.’
QUOTE: Leo Tolstoy: Here I am alive, and it’s not my fault, so I have to try and get by as best I can without hurting anybody until death takes over.
SONG: Drink Water by The FeelBetterMinnesota: https://youtu.be/3MZK5eRv7L0
POEM: Laura Cronk: Thirst (excerpt): I’m pouring water from cup to cup. This is the water we are meant to drink with the other animals. There are daffodils by the water, a road leading from the water to the shining crown of the sun.
QUOTE: Rumi: So come! Drink! Return to the root of the root of your own soul.