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Austin Farrer
from 
Words for Life: Forty Meditations

A. Farrer, C. C. Conti, J. L. Houlden; London: SPCK 1993

(with gratitude to David Goss for this contribution)

 

Passage for Ascension Day

 

Where then, in all my spreading world is Jesus Christ, the man risen and glorified? When clouds received him from our sight, into what height, what distance did he go? However far away I place him, I gain nothing by it: he fits no better beyond Orion than behind the nearest trees. His risen being is no part of our interlocked system of bodily force, whether far or near. He is nowhere in this world. He is not outside it, either, for it hasnít got an outside where he could be. Where is he then?

 

It is useless to start from me, and to fan out and out, looking for Jesus Christ: I must start from Jesus Christ, and fan out from there until, I reach myself.Ö

 

At first it may seem that we have two answers, spreading on independent planes and nowhere touching at a single point. Christís universe of spirit, and ours of physical force. Yet thinking further we perceive that it cannot be so. For while it is indeed impossible to place heaven in the world, it is impossible not to place the world in heaven. If Christís knowledge is spiritual, as ours is physical, then he knows us, for we are spirits too, spirits in fleshly bodies; and if he knows our spirits, he knows what our spirits know, including their bodily knowledge. He hears us speak from within our throats; he thinks our thoughts as fast as we can form them. But he feels in our fingers too, and looks through our eyes; he lives out along the lines of our vision, and our sun, moon and stars are his. By sheer love, heaven grafts the world into itself, and roots our universe in its own heart.

 

Jesus Christ, living Son of the living God, clothed in our nature, I cannot place you in my world, but neither can I escape from yours. I cannot reach you by many steps, but I can reach you by one, the single step of faith, which lands me in the heart of heaven. If ever I am to end with you, it is from you I must begin. Thou God seest me; and if ever I am to see across the gulf from me to you, it will be by starting with you, and seeing myself through your holy and compassionate eyes.