Today is the happy anniversary of a very important lesson. I was pregnant, hot, tired, and my feet were three sizes bigger than they should be. The night before, Jim was trying to figure out a way that I could get to Mass at a time other than 7am, because he knew I was low on sleep, and even lower on patience. I went to bed, and made the ever smart decision of giving God an ultimatum. I picked an obscure time, and went with it. “If I’m supposed to wake up for 7am Mass, wake me up at 6:33.” Then, within 20 seconds, I was asleep and did not set an alarm. At precisely, 6:33 am, I was briskly awoken, and begrudgingly headed to church. God’s good jokes became even more obvious as my brother in law walked on the altar to say Ascension Thursday Mass. He was filling in, and I, finding out.
Fr. Jay looked uncharacteristically sad. He stood at the pulpit and began. The Ascension, he said, is about dealing with both the highs and the lows. There is the obvious high, of a mission fulfilled, and the low, of the absence of the physical presence of God. He spoke of a trip from which he had just returned, to do a Baptism for a new baby cousin. While there, he witnessed a young couple, also family, suffering a miscarriage. In the very same day, he rejoiced in the newness and innocence of life, and the sadness of profound loss. In the very same family, one sister experienced joy and birth, as the other faced a death in her own body. The dissonance was unsettled and raw. His grief in the face of joy filled the Church. He spoke of not knowing what to say or how to comfort, so he just stayed, and said little, but prayed big. Then, he took his encounter and shared it with a church full of people, me included.
It is too often tempting to discount, discredit, and excuse the significance of the tiny and the invisible. Yet there I was, sitting in a church I seldom attend, at an hour I really hate to see, forever changed by a life I’d never meet. That baby has a mission, beyond his parents, beyond Fr. Jay, and beyond me. We all do. I needed the reminder, that day, and every day, so thank you, sweet little baby, and early morning wake up. Happy Feast of the Ascension in the midst of a mission filled with highs and lows, reaching far beyond what we see and what we do not.
May you all sleep well, and hopefully, beyond 6:33am.