Today we celebrate the Ascension, the day Jesus is lifted up in a cloud from earth and taken into heaven in the sight of his disciples. Just before Jesus takes flight, the disciples have their chance to catch up on the last of Jesus’s personally-offered teachings and have been promised the Holy Spirit. They have been blessed by Jesus, and then he ascends into heaven.
In the retelling of this story in Acts chapter one, after Jesus ascends, the disciples are staring up towards the heavens and two men in white robes appear. They ask the disciples:
“Why do you stand looking up towards heaven?”
I love this line of scripture!! “Why do you stand looking up towards heaven?” It feels like the disciples are getting called out in school, reminded to stop daydreaming, and start paying attention to the lesson. Yes, Jesus has ascended, and I can only imagine it looked pretty amazing. And now he’s out of sight and they are just staring at the sky. Why are you staring at the sky when there are things to do here right before your eyes?
Sometimes, in parenting and working with children, I need to have this exact same reminder.
Why are you staring at the sky?
Why are you so looking forward to the end of the school year and summer plans (I still can’t believe our school does not get out here until the end of June!)?
Or, why are you looking forward to when the kids are a bit older?
There are wonderful children of God standing before us right now, who need our attention in this moment and not our glassy-eyed stare at the heavens.
Have you had this experience? Perhaps when your children were babies, and just would not sleep through the night. “I can’t wait until they get older,” we think, “so we all can get a good night’s sleep.” Or perhaps when toddlers are being terrible twos or threenagers, we think, “Gosh, won’t things be better when they go to elementary school, and they can better express their emotions?”
There is ALWAYS a next milestone to look towards. We can spend most of our lives looking towards the heavens, waiting for the next threshold to be crossed. However, when we do that, we miss being in the present moment. There are times in our present moment that can be tiring, hilarious at just the wrong moment, or soul-wearying. And yet, they usually offer a glimmer of goodness in our present moment, too.
Our present moment isn’t only diapers, three-nager tantrums, and uncool parents. It’s also that baby-smell, the insightful observations of toddlers, and the growing independence of grade school. Like the disciples, sometimes we need to be reminded to look around us right now. We, like the disciples, have listened to Jesus’ teachings, been promised the Holy Spirit, been blessed by God, and given our mission in the world. Our task is not to stare into heaven, but look around us right now, guiding the children in our lives, and letting them guide us.
How can you help yourself notice the present when you are staring off into the heavens?
What is right before your eyes, calling for your loving attention today?