Last Sunday was Pentecost and I’ve been thinking about how we experience the Holy Spirit in our lives.
Let’s be honest, most of us resist the Spirit, having been formed in the materialism of western culture. In addition, I was shaped by the pragmatism of Swiss-German Mennonite culture. And why would I not resist what is irrational and described to be like drunkenness, strong wind and fire?
I remind myself: science and imagination are more powerful together than either one alone. Practicality and wildness are both necessary. You know this.
I think of making guacamole and the essentiality of salt and lime in proportion. Without their counter-balancing deliciousness, avocados are bland.
And I think of the famous lines of the faun Tumnus and the girl Lucy about Aslan in Narnia: “After all, he is not a tame lion.” “No, but he is good.”
The Spirit gives us voice. As the poet Jericho Brown writes in “The Burning Bush:”
Now, I have a voice. Entered, I am lit.
Remember me for this sprouting fire,
For the lash of flaming tongues that lick
But do not swallow my leaves, my flimsy
Branches. No ash behind, I burn to bloom.
I am not consumed. I am not consumed.
The Spirit intervenes, bringing irrepressible creativity and connectedness. The writer Jean Valentine describes a period of almost manic inspiration in this way (told more completely here):
. . . there is, at certain times and places, a clear, unwilled porousness between not only other beings, but what they have to say, or to give. This didn’t surprise me, because I had had similar experiences before, of a smaller kind; but this experience was so “far-out” and lasted so long, that it left me much less lonely, and almost completely without doubt that we are not only not alone, but we are accompanied and loved. I don’t, obviously, mean just poets or other artists: everyone, probably everything. I wonder, too, does this state of porousness exist all the time, and we only tune into it now and then?”
And here’s one more testimony to the Spirit. Watch and listen to the voice, the wildness, the joy, and the ‘state of porousness’ of Bobby McFerrin and the SpiritYouAll band performing “Everytime.”
How are you resisting or experiencing the Spirit lately in your life?