Maya Angelou has ascended into heaven.
What that "ascension" means for us in
the 21st century
has to be expressed in terms
of our understanding of God
and creation and ourselves,
and for me that means
that she remains alive
in our memories
and will always be part of us.
She once said, "I've
learned that people will forget what you said,
people will forget what you
but people will never forget how you made them feel."
Those of us who
admired her life and poetry
remember how she made us feel,
and that means
that we are going through an experience
that helps us understand today's
This past Friday
I had my morning coffee with a small group of good friends
having had earlier morning coffee at Claver House
with another group of good
and one of them described it this way.
He said that, when a
person dies, and for a short time after,
we are in a holy place, a sacred
We go about thinking of the person often, missing them,
their passing and our loss.
We are often startled to think we see them
a glance at someone wearing a shirt the same color he wore,
leaning over to smell a lilac like she loved to do,
or hearing a car come in
and thinking they've come home from a meeting
before we remember
that they won't be coming home again.
At the same time, we flash back to
things they did and said,
thinking a lot about them, replaying memories of
in our mind, and with our family and friends.
Through it all, and
the person stays inside us
and is always part of
Fr. Richard Rohr talked about
the "sacred space"
that comes after important events
as a kind of communal
a suspension of ordinary consciousness,
a deepened compassion,
a renewed conviction.
It happened to
us in this country
when President Kennedy was assassinated.
following the 9/11 attacks.
It happens when we fall in love, or get
And it happens when someone we love
The apostles, in
today's reading, are up on the mountain--
that holy place where God met with
where Jesus taught them.
They experience Jesus again,
what he said, feel his presence.
They understand Jesus in a way
not been possible before he died.
He is bigger than life, beyond life.
teachings settle more deeply into them,
and they are compelled to share
They repeat his words and teachings
and contemplate their
and continue to shape their decisions and their lives
with his wisdom.
includes an understanding
that we call "the Communion of Saints"--
belief that our ancestors and our contemporaries
are alive to us here and
It's a mystical statement of Divine Presence,
uniquely within each of
as being connected with all being, all matter, all energy--
and each other.
When I was growing up in the '50s,
this dogma was
represented in religious art
as a group of white-robed, haloed
hovering in awe above and around the priest
as he lifted the
consecrated bread at Mass.
That image doesn't work for me anymore,
because--thank God!--science has led us all
to a much grander and more
of God and the universe and all that is in it.
communion with the grandeur of all of
So today we celebrate
the ascension--the growth--
of Jesus of Nazareth
from that holy Galilean
into the friend who remains with us always,
We remember what he stood for, and how he lived,
and the way he
taught us to follow his example.
Like those first disciples,
compelled to build on the foundation he gave us--
to celebrate our
with him and each other and all the world,
as he showed at the
and to wash each other's feet,
as he did at the Last
by dedicating everything we have and are
to serving the least
Holy Spirit Catholic Community
at 3535 Executive
Parkway (Unity of Toledo)
Saturdays at 4:30 p.m.
Sundays at 9
Sundays at 5:30 p.m.
Rev. Dr. Bev