Here, Between Ascension and Pentecost

The light is changing now, and it is true, the day has just passed into ‘civil twilight.’ I have been tracking this on and off this spring, and am consistently surprised and delighted by a sudden moment of change in light that is often palpable at the beginning and the close of the day. “Able to be felt or touched.” The simplest things can bring such pleasure.

I am returning home from Rockpoint, a wooded peninsula that is moist and buggy tonight. It is the fourth Monday in May, when a group of ten or so meet for one of two monthly Wisdom practice circles. The chapel sits back from the top of a rocky outcropping overlooking Lake Champlain. Inside, large windows look across the lake. The lowering sun softens the sky colors, while simultaneously sharpening the fresh green of new leaves. They are positively glowing. Isn’t the world a wonder?

My tummy is feeling tenuous, now as it was then. During lectio divina this evening we are asked to notice where in our bodies we feel the text. The week before last, Cynthia brought this same Gospel of Thomas logion to a group at Pendle Hill, referencing “the sacred kiss.” The Beloved says, that as we drink what flows from His mouth we will come to be as He is, and goes on to say, “and I also will come to be as they are, so that what is hidden will become manifest.” It is intimate, and anticipatory. We are on the brink of Ascension, moving toward the liminal space between Ascension and Pentecost, and it is brimming with mystery. Here we are, having been given the new commandment: to love one another as I have loved you. “Greet one another with a holy kiss.”

This unfolding, from Holy Week to now, is energetically so subtle–it vibrates as soon as I turn towards it with my being. Where do I feel the text in my body? It is almost too much, and yet, while I am quavering, I feel very still and calm inside. Like a whisper: ChristoSophia, in the space between things, vast and close, I feel you. Mary Magdalene, Mary Mother of God, I need you, I pray with you. A wordless prayer, in body and heart.

Listening to the places in scripture where Ascension and Pentecost are anticipated, I begin to hear, sense, and feel, a trembling at the edges of my reality, noticing an alertness to an unspecified state that is descending upon me. Pondering, to me, is a bit like tucking something away to gestate in the Heart; not entirely hidden. As if a line of attention is entrained with that something; an attention that stays with and does not leave that spot, but neither does it meddle with it, or come too close. Life happens all around that little point of still attention. There is a gesture of allowing, of a natural movement, an acceptance that something is growing within that I do not know or understand. An open invitation to make itself clear in its own time. In this extreme quiet inside, a song I haven’t sung in ten years pops up:

“Rise up O flame, by thy light glowing
Bring to us beauty, vision and joy.”

The text of logion 108 is felt in sensation as waves moving through my limbs and into my heart and back again. There is heat involved, and some feeling of tender, poignant, anticipatory, almost fearful, fluttering. The elements of our time this evening in this little practice circle––listening to scripture about the coming of Holy Spirit, the advocate, the gift, the promise; dancing and singing “you can become all flame;” the silence in prayer together; the references to the living water and lectio, sacred conversation with logion 108 of Gospel of Thomas, “…whoever drinks what flows from my mouth will become as I am…” These elements come together and become an embodied experience. What is hidden will be revealed. A state. With sudden potency I am struck, as are others present, by the words: “and I also will come to be as they are.”

I have tucked away Rise Up O flame, to wait with it, as with a question: Is this just for me? Is this for the group? It doesn’t go away, so I share it at the close of the group. This group loves to sing, has a beautiful voice, grows together with singing. Checking the lyrics later online I find that the a cappella group Libana changed the second phrase from “by thy light glowing” to “by thy light, glory.” I like that. A Waldorf school added a second verse, bringing it closer to the sense of quiet revelation this evening:

“Out of Eternity, this new day is born,
Into Eternity, it will return.”

I look at images of Ascension and Pentecost. An awareness is dawning as the trajectory is drawn anew, from the events of Holy Week and the vision of Jesus Christ at the center of the material Earth to now. A sense of Jesus, in body and spirit, uniting at the root with all creation, all matter, ourselves, and with the dead, with the conscious circle of Humanity. I feel him there as Christosophia. Then the resurrected Christ teaching, absence, and flames of fire descending.

One image I find is a graphic disc of the liturgical year. We have been in the longest period of non-ordinary time of the year. A perfect description of how it feels: non-ordinary time. From Ash Wednesday March 6 this year. An aside: there is a flash right before, on March 3, celebrating Transfiguration Sunday. Mirrors. Up, down, all around. Comings, goings and transformation. Past and future brought together in a moment. What hand guides these things? A moment of non-ordinary time, before it sets in for the duration. Ordinary time will pick up again soon, but we have the subtlety of Ascension to Pentecost to be with first, noticing, and, perhaps, deeply living.

I am feeling the progression in real time; the slow dawning of a personal call. From the bodily depths and the magnetic, love-infused darkness of Holy Week through the light filled appearances of spirit working working working with us for forty days toward Ascension. And then, I don’t know, what is this empty void between Ascension and Pentecost? What subtle energetic force waits there? What is alive in there? Some would say it’s about the birth of the Church. Can we re-member that, freshly? Is that us? A new organism? Cells in the collective mystical body? I wonder how personal this relationship gestating is. I and Thou. I feel a call to stay awake with this sensation and simply pay attention.

After the practice circle I passed through the night, a day with my granddaughter (suddenly a three year old!), and rest here at the edge of another night, my cells singing in concert with what Helen Luke calls (something like) ‘the buzz and hum of the universe inside my body’ in her book Such Stuff as Dreams Are Made On. And the quiet in there is as alive and burning as it is silent. Nothing particular arises in this experience except this: This is about relationship. I don’t know where it is going. It is about relationship that we rarely talk about, that I search for words for. It feels as if it is about the nature of relationship as well. I feel time and silence vibrating on the edges of my skin and am aware of the heart as a resonant field.

Sunday, June 9 is Pentecost. The day that all were gathered and Holy Spirit descended into each one, gave each his voice, her fire. I imagine the group of men and women waiting, after being with Jesus and his resurrection teaching for forty days, and then seeing Jesus ascend and disappear. Through that, perhaps coming to some kind of understanding that he was, indeed, in the heart of our earth, uniting, by simply being with, all things. Not turning away from darkness or light. Now the people, knowing he is gone, as he said he would be, after requesting that we love one another, love the earth, our earthly lives, as he loved. Telling us we would come to be as he is, and he would come to be as we are. Waiting and not knowing, what form the promise will take. To what corners does it penetrate?

What is it: that Holy Spirit is coming? Is here for us, in us?  

posted June 8, 2019 by Laura Ruth

Comments (3)

  1. Wonderful account, brave too. I so like “Life happens all around that little point of still attention.” and can really connect with you through that. Memories of visiting the French Orthodox church and monastery at Lorgues in the South of France and that point of still attention glowing amongst the candles and the chanting. I believe it connects with the Sufi practice (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eleven_Naqshbandi_principles) of Nigah Dasht. Love and good wishes to you.

    1. Thank you Jonathan,

      I enjoyed the description of the Sufi principle very much: I will copy it here for others to see, “Neegar dashtan (or nigah dasht) — watchfulness, use of special faculties.

      “Concentrating on the presence of God. Being alert, watchful for and open to subtle perceptions, positive energy, positive opportunity and positive impacts. Being watchful over passing thoughts.” (from wikipedia, Jonathan’s link above)

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