In terms of visuals Ascension is one of those feasts that is quite capable of giving me the giggles. Every time I try and think seriously about it I get a mental image of very perplexed disciples staring at a pair of feet ascending into the clouds. Sometimes one of them is about to get clonked on the head by some sandy, stinky sandals. Usually while I am thinking these thoughts there is an ernest priest trying to explain why all this is very important and serious indeed.
It is all a bit odd really, isn't it? Has any artist painted it without making the scene look a bit silly? A bit Monty Python? And, what on earth is the point?
After Easter the Church celebrated 40 days of Jesus' resurrection and his appearances among the disciples. Then Jesus goes away - back to his Father, and back into a world the disciples can only glimpse for when they have been listening to him. They say that life is about striving towards your goal. For the disciples, their goal was to follow Jesus. After the Ascension the disciples strive after Him, seeking to live out his teachings through the help of the Spirit. Jesus has gone ahead 'to prepare a place' for his disciples in 'God's space', leading the way for people to follow.
How did it happen in real life? I don't know, but I am not sure that is the point. I like the funny image, but I am not sure it is very helpful - it just makes me smile. If I were to create a mental vision to help me think about the meaning of the Ascension it would have to be something different: the shepherd leading the sheep home, perhaps. Or, the host running ahead to prepare a meal for his guests.