Our guide to Ascention Day
Ascentioin day is tomorrow, 26th May 2022. In the Christian belief, is the day that Jesus Christ ascended into heaven. It took place on the 40th day after his Resurrection on Easter Sunday.
This annual celebration of Ascension has become the recognition of a bridge between earth and heaven, a reunion of the earth with the cosmos, a time when we can see and recognise the signs of heavenly forces in the shape of nature’s return and renewal here on the earth once again. As the earth breathes out towards late spring then into summer, so our consciousness can also begin to expand. In this festival we can recognise that the earth’s nature forces, life forces have been renewed, and for the experiencing and good of the whole of humanity.
There are accounts that from the very beginning of its observance as a festival Ascension was taken as a liturgical procession which went outside the city, and usually to the top of a hill, in imitation of Christ’s leading of the Apostles out towards Bethany. In Jerusalem it was, of course, the original path that Christ took to the summit of the Mount of Olives. Different places around the world had its variation upon the theme. Often, upon arrival, the account of Christ’s Ascension would then be read, and prayers said.
The festival of Ascension is often celebrated in Waldorf schools by the whole school community being outside and taking a hike up a nearby hill to experience the ascent, the panoramic view at the top which brings both perspective and joy and the descent. Sometimes it’s even encouraged to take this activity in mindful silence whilst at others a discussion about what it felt like at the bottom of the hill with it all before and above them, what it felt like at the top and afterwards what the experience of the descent was is a fruitful activity.
Because, as a picture image, Jesus’ ascension was a journey up into the clouds the element of air is also something that Waldorf School communities use to mark and celebrate this mighty and important event which changed the world, lying on the ground lost in watching the clouds as they drift by, just experiencing the way they roll, appear, dimmish, change shape is an excellent mindful activity to include in any ascension day activities. For smaller children playing with bubbles, blowing dandelion clocks, streamers on sticks or flying kites all have become symbols of this significant event. .
As families who celebrate and mark such festivals, it is so important to keep festivals simple and easy. Make Ascension an essential festival for your family with a simple outing or ritual that becomes part of your family tradition is an excellent example of how to include the celebration of festivals into family life. When children are younger there is no need to discuss the festival with the children. It is enough simply that they observe, for example as in the case of ascension, their ascent and descent. Some of the most powerful festivals for children and adults alike are those that are simple observances of a ritual.
A further ‘air’ activity if you have more children and their adults around which brings a lot of joy and fun is to play games with a giant parachute. The excitement of letting the parachute fly free for a moment as you swap places or cross underearth the parachute is an experience of expansion that matches the expansion into late spring and towards the summer.
If you have a nature table, then you can have fun decorating it. For example, you could use a green cloth on the table with the Easter candle present, a bunch of colourful meadow flowers and a small number of golden stars beneath the flowers as a symbol of heavenly forces now coming to earth.
With our love on this day to you. Happy Ascension Everyone!