Sunday, May 23, 2010

Reflections on the Feast of Pentecost and the Gift of the Spirit

I have looked forward to the Feast of Pentecost since these tiny white flowers appeared on our lawn a few weeks ago.  I am not sure what they are, or how they grew on the lawn, for none of my community planted them, but they seemed a lovely surprise.  I searched the web and I think they are called Star of Bethlehem.  They evidently grow from a bulb (probably planted by a local squirrel), but our local ravenous deer ate them the next day, so I couldn't check the roots.  If they are Star of Bethlehem, they are evidently a quickly propagating wildflower.  And, isn't that just like the Holy Spirit!  The Spirit comes to me, most frequently, by surprise!  And I hope, the effects of the Spirit with me and with others in the world propagates very rapidly (and doesn't have a fattened deer to whisk away the good effects).

The Spirit, of course, entered my life through the gift of the sacraments and through the gift of my religious profession.  I am aware of the presence of the Holy Spirit in our community room when we pray together each morning.  As we share our prayer and reflections, it is so clear that each person receives the gifts she needs in a different way as we reflect on the liturgy of the day together.  And this is a source of great nourishment for each of us in community together.

I certainly know this Person of the Trinity through Scripture and Liturgy, but also through the wonder and awe I experience in creation.  When I took this photograph I had not seen a rainbow for very man years.  I was on an 8 day silent retreat, and was filled with cosmic wonder and awe at the beauty of the sky, the inner reverence I experienced, and the reality that I was not alone in the enjoyment of this silent exquisite sky event. It was a delightful way to know and feel the presence of the Spirit in the "great outdoors" as all was transformed for a few minutes.

Another quiet Spirit experience for me is having the time to look at the the utter simplicity of a daisy.  When I looked closely at my picture for the first time, I noticed that there was a small insect on one of the left petals, and that the petals were not "perfectly spaced".  Yet I experienced it as beautiful.  Somehow, I realized I was being reminded that simplicity in this very complex world is very important, that neither I nor anyone else is perfect, and that all of us can be beautiful just as we are.  But to recognized that on an every day basis really requires the gifts of the Spirit in great abundance.  It is so easy to become annoyed with petty things, to criticize the imperfect in others and to lose compassion for all.  How different the world would be if all of us remembered the simple daisy.

When I was collecting my thoughts to write this blog entry, I looked at some photographs I had taken at our General Chapter in Rome a few years ago.  I had entitled this photograph: :Active Listening:"  I have experienced Active Listening and have attempted it.  This type of listening means listening to the other person without thinking about what I want to say while she is talking - i.e. not interrupting her communication by focussing on my thoughts, but rather giving my total attention to her.  It is far simpler than agreeing or disagreeing.  It is non-judgmental listening.  I believe that is how the Holy Spirit listens to each one of us - really listens.  The Spirit hears our delight, our groaning, our intercessions, our hopes.  I have been listened to in this way in some personal relationships, and it is a very life-giving experience.  And, I believe that is the way the Spirit is with each of us.  Of course, it helps if we take time to listen actively to the Spirit as well.

This experience can take the form of gratitude for great joy, comfort in the time of great trial, hope for the future, compassion for the marginalized, being fascinated with God.  It can be sudden with a big Ah-Ah; or it can be as silent as the flutter of a butterfly's wings.  For the Spirit knows when we need a WOW! or a pervasive gentle silence.

This is what I celebrate today.  HAPPY PENTECOST!

I put together a video of my reflections on the gift of the Spirit on our RSHM web site at:

If you have 4 minutes, find a quiet spot and view it with or without the accompanying music.  May the Spirit speak to you in whatever way you need God's presence!

No comments:

Post a Comment