Thursday, May 20, 2004

Ascension Sunday 


Winter grows in the hearts of birds
until they burst to flight,
as Heaven grew within the flesh
of the resurrected Christ.


“Entreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God: Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: the Lord do so to me, and more also, if aught but death part thee and me.”

Ruth 1:16

There was a man, a Sherpa, named Tenzing Norgay. Ascension was his life. He was on the team of most, if not all, early attempts to reach the summit of Mount Everest. He was with Edmund Hillary when the summit was finally reached in 1953. He spent more time on the mountain than anyone, ever. He said, “In my heart, I needed to go. The pull of Mt. Everest was stronger in me than any force on Earth.” Just as Ruth couldn’t part with Naomi, Norgay couldn’t part with Mt. Everest. Just so, how heartrending it must have been among the faithful when Jesus died, came back for forty days, and then ascended into the clouds. How painful to have lost all you seek twice in forty days. It must have been Mt. Everest crumbling for Tenzing Norgay. It must have been Namoi sneaking off in the night for Ruth. It must have been like waking up alone in a silent house after your spouse and children have all gone away.

Last night was my son’s Senior Honors Night. As each student was announced, a quote the student had selected was read. One student had chosen a quote from Marilyn Manson: “If all of your wishes are granted, then all of your dreams are destroyed.” There was an intake of breath that everyone could hear when that was read, for the quote was so different than any of the others, and the name “Marilyn Manson” so controversial. But of all the quotes last night, that is the one that has most stuck with me. (Well, one other stuck with me: “Everyone is gifted, some just open their presents later than others.”) Anyway, Tenzing Norgay had a constant dream to reach the summit of Mt. Everest. If he had been somehow transported there without the effort of the climb, his wish would have been granted, but his dream destroyed. The Apostles wished to sit on the right hand of Jesus in Heaven, but if that wish had been granted when Jesus ascended into Heaven, the Church would have been destroyed, would never have been built. It is the summit we wish for, but the climb is our dream. If our wish is granted, our dream is destroyed.

If our wish is eternal life with Christ, then managing well the climb through the canyons and crevasses of our life should be our dream. Yes?

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