“The Nearness of You” by Rod Stewart (2002)

The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Music, Ascension Sunday, 02 June 2019
Pilgrims on top of Mt. Sinai, Egypt. Photo by Atty. Grace Polaris Rivas-Beron, 07 May 2019.

Today is the Solemnity of the Ascension of Jesus Christ, the beginning of a new level of “nearness of God” with us.

And that explains the reason for our music this Sunday, “The Nearness of You” composed way back in 1938 by Hoagy Carmichael with lyrics by Ned Washington. The song debuted in 194o and since then has delighted many hearts and souls with its lovely melody and music interpreted by so many artists in every generation.

I have chosen Rod Stewart’s version taken from his 2002 album It Had to be You: The Great American Songbook because the song fits him so well. Yes, Rod is a rocker but he had matured so well that after all the noise, he has grown deeper in his art that his unique voice suddenly had acquired a depth coming not only from the heart but even from the soul. I won’t be surprised at all if one day Rod Stewart would be talking about some sort of spirituality and holiness.

Now back to our Sunday celebration of the Ascension of Jesus Christ…

15th century Greek icon of the Ascension of Jesus. From Google.

In the gospel today, St. Luke tells us that after Jesus had ascended into heave, the disciples “returned to Jerusalem filled with great joy.”

That is totally strange because whenever someone leaves, the general feeling is always sadness like when we have to change residence or old neighbors move out, when loved ones have to go abroad to work or worst, when a beloved dies. They all bring sadness.

Where did that great joy among the disciples of Jesus come from after the Lord had ascended into heaven?

From their hearts! The key to understanding and appreciating the Ascension of Jesus into heaven is not in looking up the skies or looking down on the ground where he stood. It is in looking deep into our hearts.

Anything that remains in our head or in our mind is always open to doubts. When that truth we believe in sinks into our hearts, then we get the conviction that it is really true. And that is when we experience great joy within: It is in the heart where we come to conviction that leads us into living authentically no matter how painful that truth may be. That is why there are saints and heroes – including lovers – willing to die for their beliefs because they are so convinced with the truth in their hearts.

From Google.

At the Ascension, the disciples had the conviction that Jesus is truly alive, that his going to heaven is more of coming to a new level of existence and relating with them, something no longer bounded by time and space, something always so near and so personal.

It is the same feeling we have with those we love. Even if they are not physically present with us, we feel their nearness because we love.

There lies the beauty and timelessness of the song “The Nearness of You”: nothing beats the love that brings us so close, so near with one another. Unless we have that deep conviction and love for a person, we will never rise up – or ascend – to higher level of relationship that is so near, so close.

 It's not the pale moon that excites me
That thrills and delights me, oh no
It's just the nearness of you

It isn't your sweet conversation
That brings this sensation, oh no
It's just the nearness of you

When you're in my arms
And I feel you so close to me
All my wildest dreams come true

If you can say these words to a beloved, imagine when you level this up to Jesus Christ? That would definitely be a new level of nearness with him and with others.

Look into your heart, believe, and be convinced.

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