The day after the Ascension, Mary of Magdala thought she glimpsed Jesus, in the market. Out of the corner of her eye, she could have sworn she saw the light tan of his robe, a flicker of movement that her heart recognized. When she turned to look more directly, all she saw were strangers all around her.
The day after the Ascension, Peter davened in prayer in the temple. His joy and grief poured out in furious whispers. Opening his eyes briefly, he whipped his head to the left, sure he saw Jesus praying beside him. His eyes beheld only Philip and Andrew with him and strangers beyond them.
The day after the Ascension, Pilate and Claudia drank wine on the balcony of the governor’s palace and looked out toward the hills. No spoken words between them, they stared out in the same direction, watching people carry water, herd animals, and carry on with living. Suddenly, they both looked at each other, “Did you see…?” They both turned back, but what they thought they had seen wasn’t there anymore, just the people of the land, which Pilate and Claudia were sure was god-forsaken.
The day after the Ascension, Mary of Nazareth kneaded bread. She has become accustomed the the numbness of grief tinged with wonder. Her eyes mostly stare blankly at people, walls, scenery while her body goes through the motions. As she folds the dough over and over, she blinks at vision through the window. Certain she just saw her oldest son, she runs with floured hands to the gate to look beyond. All she sees are her neighbors. Those who see her pause, wave, and call out greetings. She responds, but the blood still pounds in her chest at what she though she saw.
The day after the Ascension, Saul of Tarsus snapped his head up from the Torah scroll he was studying. He knows he just heard his name in the room where he was alone. He is confident he saw a man, standing just to his right, speaking to him. Looking around, Saul sees he is still alone in the room. Maybe it was time to take a break for some bread and cheese.
The day after the Ascension, the Word was as present in creation as ever. Perceived, as ever, in unexpected people, places, and ways. Moving, as ever, through the land, the breath, the water. Saving, as ever, from the notion that created beings redeem themselves alone. Alive, as ever, at the edge of awareness and full-on in the face of a stranger.
The day after the Ascension, Christ is still with us.
The Reverend Julia Seymour serves Big Timber Lutheran Church (ELCA) in Big Timber, MT. She blogs at lutheranjulia.blogspot.com and readsallthethings.com. She contributed to There’s A Woman in the Pulpit and is President of the board of RevGalBlogPals, Inc.
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