Home and Ascension

Our homes are metaphors. They are statements of our being in the world in much the same way as our clothes are or our habitual facial expressions or our stance and gait. As a parish priest I liked to visit people's homes because I learned far more about people in the first five seconds over their threshold than I would in five years of conversation over coffee after church. It's not about judgement, it's about revelation. It's incarnation, which is the immaterial self finding expression in the material world. Ah. So this is who you are! The one who would live in this place and surround yourself with these things and arrange them in this way.

My house at the moment is swathed in scaffolding.  There are guys clambering over our roof and through our doors, changing things and fixing stuff and painting it. It's their music and their conversation which engulf us, and very informative it is, too. The metaphor is perfect. Perfect.

Our houses and clothes define us not by addition but by subtraction. Out of all the various choices before us we select these ones, and in doing so exclude all the others. My home is on a hillside in Dunedin and it's made of cedar and iron. Which means that I can't, obviously, be living in a glass walled apartment by the harbourside in Bilbao or in a pueblo in Arizona. I set limits and make choices (or have them made for me) to mark my place in the world. This is the way it works: this place; this time; this colour. Not all those other ones.

Jesus said,Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head. I was thinking of that one day last week as I was smugly congratulating myself on my excellent choice of home, and realised something that had been staring me in the face for 40 years but that I had somehow overlooked. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. It's not that Jesus had no home, but rather that he was at home everywhere. He hadn't made the limiting choices, that's all. Of course, that's not to say that he was welcome everywhere. I doubt that he could have rocked up to Caiaphas' episcopal palace for lunch any time he chose, for example, but that had less to do with Jesus' being in the world than with Caiaphas's.

Which all makes sense of the ascension, don't you think? Last Friday's feast day celebrates not so much Jesus hiving off to some other place from whence he will someday return, but rather the ultimate move towards us. He has removed all the remaining limits: even those of time and space and place. So his presence is everywhere, everytime, though, like Caiaphas, I can limit my perception of that.