The Ministry of the Sky
Years ago in college, I came across a phrase in my reading that’s stayed with me ever since: the ministry of the sky. I’ve forgotten the context – I’m almost sure it was an essay by John Ruskin – but the words built a hut in my memory. I was captivated by the insight that the sky ministers to us as human beings. I could relate, maybe because I was (and still am?) the kind of guy who’s not uncomfortable with his head in the clouds.
In any event, the phrase always comes back to me at the Feast of the Ascension, which we celebrate this Sunday. Jesus ascends into a cloud and the disciples are baffled – a dramatic scene. While in Luke’s account an angel chides the disciples for looking intently at the sky, I, given my aforementioned personality bent, am more inclined to cut those disciples a little slack. Maybe they needed the sky’s ministry.
Plus, my Franciscan sensitivity tells me creation can speak to us. When the sky is charged with beauty it can inspire me. When I pause and notice its changing “moods,” the sky assures me that “moodiness” is something I can expect, don’t panic. And when it seems that Jesus has disappeared, maybe the sky is telling us to be faithful and wait. Sometimes the sky is bold and charged with light; at other times it’s humble, in darkness, unknowing, we might say, making way for a light further beyond itself.
We’re in the midst of a global pandemic, under enormous economic pressure. We have a mission, and the sky can show us its outline: be faithful; remember the power of beauty; don’t let the changing moods surprise you. Most of all, step toward the new horizon – Jesus Christ is waiting there.
Fr. Dan ofm, Pastor