Pentecost came this Sunday! I have been eager for its celebration this year, but I was finding few resources in poetry and picture that captured what to me was the most intriguing and hopeful gift that the Spirit brings–the element of Surprise.
Our preacher began her sermon Sunday, and I was delighted to hear her reflect on her own disappointment and mine at the tameness and comforting words and rhythms that characterize our hymns about the Holy Spirit; as my theology professor used to say,”true, but not adequate!” What catches her eye and heart, and mine, and our imaginations, are the unexpected appearances, gyrations and actions of the Holy Spirit that sacred text describes for us–a Spirit brooding over unshaped waters, a Spirit gusting over dry bones, a Spirit shouting through a reluctant prophet, a fertile Spirit entering an open-hearted, but unlikely woman to conceive and bear a child. It is the element of surprise that is most intriguing, and in truth most daunting, about this person of the Trinity. It blows where it chooses, and one does not know where it comes from or where it is going. The Iona Community captured that wildness in their choice of a wild goose as its logo. Longtime member John Bell says of the wild goose, “You don’t know where or when it is coming, and sometimes it makes a mess.”
I am looking for sights and sounds of the wildness of the Spirit in this season. I am aware of and continue to need the showings of the Holy Spirit that are comforting, instructive and healing. I am comfortable with them in my life, the life of others, the Church and the world. But, I am hoping for heightened senses in me to discern the ways of challenge that the Spirit is bringing about. I heard about another religious institutional failure, and I wonder: is this not only the result of human frailty, but possibly God the Spirit making way for something new? I enter into a conversation about spiritual peace and serenity, and find that suddenly there is a brilliant spotlight on things gone awry that need attending and a re-direction of energy and intention. A knotty impasse that has remained unsolved for years suddenly is offered a slight reconfiguration by an unlikely person that can become the first step toward resolution and freedom.
Come Holy Spirit, come!