Ascension Day. What must it have been like to have been there? On that mountain? Could anyone have imagined what they were about to witness? How did they feel as they stood there in the dust? How big was the crowd? We cannot know. But, in hindsight, we can see the scene in our mind’s eye. I wrote this poem in 2001 – and have since had the privilege of visiting the site of the Ascension. Covered by a small building and surrounded by a simple space full of tourists, I had to use my imagination to visualise the scene as it happened all those years ago. Perhaps today, on this Ascension Day, this poem will help to take you there, to watch your risen Lord ascend into heaven and take His place at the right hand of the Father. May you watch in awe and be blessed as you read these words.
It was hot in the sun
Dry dust puffing up as we toiled up the mountain
talking and laughing
Together again – everyone there except for the one
who had caused all the pain;
But he was forgotten in all the excitement when Jesus returned
and once more lived amongst us.
We didn’t know why we were going up the mountain
we followed rejoicing, unquestioning, trusting,
And the crowd kept on growing, louder and hotter,
vibrant and wondering
Was that really Jesus ahead of us, living,
leading as always, talking to John, to Peter and Andrew?
Just like the old times before the bad memories,
before the great victory when He rose triumphant.
They stopped on the mountain.
Stopped on the hillside surrounded by crowds of hot, curious people
milling and seething and waiting for wonders.
We were all watching Jesus, who smilingly blessed us,
lifted His hand as if saying Godspeed.
Then – how can I tell you so you will believe me –
He rose from the dust and the rocks and the people!
Yes, rose in the air as if weightless, like feathers, and floated
on clouds that appeared out of nowhere
Till He vanished into them leaving us gaping
staring in wide-eyed amazement and silence.
Almost not breathing we stood there in astonishment
gasping in wonder, whispering, shaken.
More transpired on the mountain.
Everyone stood on the mountain that morning
stunned by the marvel we’d witnessed en masse
As we gazed at the clouds that shone bright in the heavens
we were shocked once again by a vision of light.
Two young men, in robes that were shining and brilliant,
with faces that shone from an immanent radiance
Appeared there before us and addressed the stunned people
with celestial voices of pure crystal sound
‘Jesus has gone to His Father in Heaven and as He has
left you one day will return!’
We ran down the mountain, all of us asking
what would happen in future with no Jesus to lead us
And talking, discussing, recalling the wonders
of all that we’d witnessed and all we had seen
I’ll remember the mountain
And how we all scurried back into the city
rushed to our homes full of fear at the future;
Hiding and moving in cover of darkness
to meet and to pray in wild desperation.
Hoping naively that something would happen
wondering when and waiting each day
Waiting and waiting and waiting …..