Sister Doreen’s Reflections
Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful, and kindle in us the fire of your love.
May the Spirit you bestow on us continue to work in the world.
Keep us in the unity of the Spirit
that we may show forth these gifts to all the world.
Open to every race and nation, life in all its fullness.
(taken from BAS Pentecost propers)
Since tomorrow is Pentecost, my thoughts turned to musings about that Feast day. There is something of a message of an inherent, transformative energy that is both active and potential about this day. It seems to have, as Joyce Rupp wrote in one of her books: “a movement of graced vitality with the power to further our spiritual transformation.” In my mind I have an image of Pentecost as a blazing fiery light and rushing wind that lights up and ruffles the waters, filling things and kindling things from sparks to fire. I share some thoughts with you.
Pentecost, also sometimes called Whitsunday, the 50th day of Easter, is the end of the Paschal season. There is a Jewish feast of Pentecost (Shavuot) that was primarily a thanksgiving for the first fruits of the harvest, and a remembrance of the Law given by God to Moses on Mount Sinai. Jesus’ promise of a Pentecost was like a first fruits of a new covenant.
Pentecost became a popular time for baptisms, and the name Whitsunday arose for the special white garments worn by the newly baptized.
Pentecost vestments are red, to symbolize the ‘tongues of fire’ that descended on the disciples.
I have been in several different churches over the years for the celebration of Pentecost – and have experienced a sea of red balloons held by members of the congregation! These balloons were later taken out and let loose to float up into the sky, and some to the ceilings of the church.
All of these thoughts gave rise to reflections about the four elements of earth, air, water, and fire – they all seem to express different aspects of the Gospel and of God’s goodness. It is as if we who are of the earth (Remember you are dust) are made fully alive when the Holy Spirit, clothed in wind, and water, and fire comes upon us and becomes a part of who we are (Dust you are splendour). It is almost as if we come today to the Feast of fire, air and water whose mother-tongue is Love. So much of the biblical stories wash over us when we pause to reflect upon these elements of air (breath), water and fire. Somehow Pentecost for me this year is about words – the wind, the breath, the water and the fire. God’s spirit makes all things clear: its wind blows away the chaff, its water gives life and purifies, and its fire burns away all impurities and forges new strength. All the experiences that we have, the sorrow, the joy, the hurt, the rejection, the poverty, the captivity and the death – into all of these experiences the Spirit of Love speaks of freedom and release.
John Bell in one of his hymns put this so beautifully: “to the lost Christ shows his face, to the unloved he gives his embrace, to those who cry in pain or disgrace Christ makes, with his friends, a touching place.”
This is a Feast Day of so many possibilities! It is an invitation to stand before the love of God and to hear again for ourselves Love’s invitation and to allow ourselves to enjoy the tenderness of God’s love in our lives. It is indeed a Feast of Love – the fire of God’s Love – and we ask for that love to be kindled in us. “Come down O love divine, seek thou this soul of mine.” And it is usually experienced in ordinary ways: a quote in a book I am reading, the love in friendship, kindheartedness, a smile, a sunset: these prompt me to see a deeper meaning, an awakening, a stirring inside.
This is gifted to us for the benefit of the whole world. We are invited to open ourselves to the windy, watery, fiery love of God for constant renewal and strength so that we can continue, by God’s grace and the spirit’s life-giving power to be given the words and the energy that will send us out to live that great love in the world. Our work will then be a blessing for all humankind and in some small way will benefit the whole world.
Macrina Wiederkehr in her book “The Seven Sacred Pauses” wrote:
“O Spirit of the Circling Hours, bless me that I may be a blessing,
Work through me, that I may be your love poured out upon the earth.”
Joyce Rupp wrote: “Ah Spirit, draw me to the comfort of your breast, nourish me with the power of your divine presence, strengthen me with the courage of your love, and then, shove me out of the nest when it is time.” And she asks the following question and makes a comment: How has the Spirit’s wild flow of energy visited and influenced your soul? Sit in the “upper room” of your daily life, and you will find it there.
In closing this reflection I would like the share one of Joyce Rupp’s poems called Blessing for Pentecost:
“May the enthusiasms of Spirit leap incessantly within you and help you to live a vibrant life.
May the warmth of Spirit’s fire be extended through your concern and care for all those who need your love.
May the blaze of Spirit’s courage enable you to speak the truth and to stand up for respect, dignity, and justice.
May the undying embers of Spirit’s faithfulness support you when you feel spiritually dry and empty.
May the strength of Spirit’s love sustain your hope as you enter into the pain of our world.
May the clear light of Spirit’s guidance be a source of effective discernment and decision-making for you.
May Spirit’s patient endurance be yours while you wait for what is unknown to be revealed.
May the steady flame of Spirit’s goodness within you convince you every day of the power of your presence with others.
May the joyful fire of Spirit dance within you and set happiness ablaze in your life.
May the spark of your relationship with the Spirit catch afire in the hearts of those with whom you live and work.
May you be mindful of the Eternal Flame within you.
May you rely on this Source of Love to be your constant ally and steady guide.”