Ascension Day was celebrated on this day for centuries. It has now been moved to this Sunday so that more people will participate.
In the mid-1980’s as my grandfather (Pepere) faced his possible death suffering badly from emphysema, he had a great fear of dying. All of us have this terrible fear, if we are honest with ourselves. And the loss of breath itself is terrifying.
So, he would sleep in his rocking chair so that he might breath better. But the fear inside him was not subsiding. Then one night he had a vision, or a sense, something or Someone beyond himself that calmed this fear in a flash of insight. Somehow he was totally reassured that he could pass through the darkness in peace and that all would be well. And his fear ended.
He did pass away a short while later.
Ironically it was on this day, Ascension Thursday. I don’t remember the actual date, just the day. The funeral director said that Pepere had cheated the system and hitched a ride on the Ascending Jesus!
Of course, there are all kinds of things wrong with that theology, but not so completely wrong, really. I feel that he indeed ascended that day more than 30 years ago!
And every Ascension Thursday, whether they celebrate it anymore on that day or not, I see Pepere rising on those coattails, and it gives me comfort and joy to think about it. What a great gifted memory to leave with all of us!