Today is Ascension Thursday in the Catholic liturgical year.
It is the beginning of the preparation for the feast of Pentecost, nine days away (start your novena now if you are interested.)
And in my own distractable, self-absorbed sort of way, I have been pondering these days in a whole ‘nother light. My husband and I have had discussions about this and how these days, this year in particular, are suddenly even more meaningful.
We love being able to live the liturgical year. It gives a rhythm to the year just like another layer of seasons. And this year, we have the greatest gift of being able to live the liturgical year in the most real way ever, the most literal living of the domestic church possible for us.
Today is the feast of the Ascension. In nine days it is the feast of Pentecost. That is the night we arrive in Addis (it is also Mother’s Day, another bonus). Obviously, we didn’t plan to arrive on Pentecost. I’ve spoken before about the lack of control in adoption and thus you don’t get to pick such things as when you might pass court and be able to go and get your new child. You just wait impatiently (and anxiously) for it. Sometimes when my mouth drops from the shock of finding these connections and little gifts of grace I just as quickly laugh – knowing that we must really be pitiful doofus types to need such obvious bricks falling on our heads. It takes the almost slapstick-level obvious smack in the face to help us “see” what is really real. Slow learners, indeed! (But again, isn’t it SO nice to know that God will meet you where you are, come down to your level? Great comfort to me, I’ll tell ya!)
This feast in particular, the Feast of the Ascension, has always been an odd one for me to fully grasp. I mean, here the disciples have been relishing the time together with Christ after we was mercilessly crucified, and now suddenly, he’s leaving them again. So where’s the feast and joy in that? And what about his mom? She has to watch him die and then rejoice that it really happened – he came back raised from dead – and here he was again, and now, once more, accept his departure. That’s devastating. Just saying goodbye each time to my college boy just kills me. Every time. And that’s just saying so long for a bit, and knowing he is perfectly well and crazy happy there.
But. On this day He said, “I go to prepare a place for you.” And now, for these next nine days, in our house we are too preparing a place for our new child. And he too, sits as they sat, waiting and not understanding or even knowing what was to come. In our church, we are taught that the family is the “domestic church.” We model the greater church as a whole, ideally. No pressure, right? Ha.
However, this year, this feast is such a parallel that it makes tears spring to my eyes. This feast is a leave taking, but better; it is a promise. The best promise of all. The promise of preparing a place for the whole of God’s family to be together. The promise that he “will come again and take you to” himself. This is the promise we also have made to this child, who does not yet even know or understand. But we prepare him a place, in our family, and we are waiting at the gate to go and bring him to ourselves.
And so, now: in nine days it is Pentecost; the feast of the coming of the Holy Spirit. The comforter. God himself, again. Another promise of a feast, played out. “I will not leave you orphans” is the promise. Well, again, blessedly for us, we have been given the grace and gift to be able to live this out, as literally as we can imagine. We land in Addis Ababa on the night of Pentecost. The next morning we meet our new son. Our new little boy. Gabriel Tariku. We have prepared him a place. We will not leave him an orphan. And we will, with tears and thanksgiving and inner whoops of joy, take him to ourselves.
3 And if I shall go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself: that where I am, you also may be. 4
Image source, top painting by Giotto. Second Image from trip to Greece taken by husband.