I almost always pray a Rosary at some time during the hour. It took me a long time to get into the rhythm of meditating on the mysteries of the Rosary while praying the decades. I didn't know them all by heart and for a while it seemed like an ancient form of stressful Windows multitasking. But it comes more easily now, and frequently the Lord bestows little insights about his nature out of nowhere while I'm praying.
So I had a couple of those delightful moments last night. The first arrived as I was hanging around thoughts of the resurrection. I realized that Jesus had been fully dead and, in the space of no time at all, became fully alive. I don't know whether I had harbored a secret mental image of one of those trick birthday candles that always have a hidden spark left that later bursts into flame to fool you. But I found it striking. There was absolutely nothing left of life in Jesus. Nothing at all. Until the power of the Holy Spirit restored not only his full human life but full divine life as well, it was gone. Done. And then, instantly, it was better than it had been before. I'm sure the application here to times of being bereft is worth lots of thought.
The second reflection relates to the interval between Jesus' ascension to heaven and the giving of the Holy Spirit to the disciples.
A quick sidebar: At Mass yesterday, my fiancé read the first reading from one of his favorite books, Job. In part, it read: "If in bed I say, 'When shall I arise?' then the night drags on; I am filled with restlessness until the dawn. My days are swifter than a weaver’s shuttle; they come to an end without hope. Remember that my life is like the wind; I shall not see happiness again." When he returned to his seat, I remarked to him, "Thankfully, Job was mistaken." Henry's response was, "He was right."
I believe both Henry and I were correct. Job was telling the absolute truth. He was miserable through no fault of his own. Life was bleak, dark and full of misery. Yet he hadn't yet seen the end of his own story where "the Lord [will bless] the latter days of Job with more than he had at the beginning." (Jb 42: 12) Job was right about the present, but he wasn't in a position to see what God had in store.
It must have been like that for the disciples during the interval time. Jesus ascends to the Father. Period. The disciples have learned a lot about his divine nature, he has told them of plans to bless them, but at that moment there is nothing of Jesus that can be found anywhere in the world. I hope they waited in faith. But if they extrapolated from the present ("I pray but nothing happens," they might say, or "He said it would be better if he went away, but look around -- it's not!"), they would reach the wrong conclusion. Their facts are right. But their assumptions wouldn't take into account the tremendous generative power and love of God.
So much of anxiety stems from the inadequacy of our data. We have the concrete facts right, perhaps. But the part of the equation that will be supplied by the enormous loving kindness of God hasn't yet been made apparent. We can wait. Or we can do what seems more proactive -- we can fret.
Oh, dear. Teach me Lord, teach me Lord to wait.