One theme. One poet. One memoirist.

Sunday, May 9, 2010


I've not done a reflection for a while. Today's gospel reading is the one where Jesus assures the disciples that he will send the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, to be with them after he is gone. As I listened to the gospel today, I pondered the creative chaos bred by the Spirit.

Such creative chaos is present in storms as well.




The wind blows where it wills, and you can hear the sound it makes, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes; so it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.

(John 3:8)

I grew up in Kansas City, Missouri, just east of tornado alley. The storms of the midwest can be threatening, cantankerous, unexpected. I fear these storms, not because I’ve ever experienced the terror of a tornado, but because their unruliness cannot be controlled or reigned in or stopped. They simply go until they wear themselves out. I have no influence over them. They are reminders of my humility. I can only stand in awe at the rush of water beating down on the earth, on cars, on buildings, on plants. Lightning splits the sky, a web both beautiful and terrifying; thunder rolls and shakes and deafens.

To this day such storms have me contemplating the safest place in whatever shelter I’m occupying. I take note of the presence of blankets and sturdy shoes. I avoid windows and check weather stations to see how immanent the threat. In other words, I exert control over the things that can be controlled.

Nevertheless, in recent years I have found myself needing thunderstorms. I desire the reminder that the world can be shaken, that stability is a human construct. Sometimes we are drawn to that which we fear most.

John’s gospel tells us of a holy unruliness: the Spirit blows where it wills. It moves and dances and creates and destroys. And this Spirt makes noise. That is the noise I crave. That is the noise that nudges and inspires. I frequently hope that the voice of the Spirit is loud and obnoxious. I want her voice to be as demanding as a thunderstorm in June.

Instead, she whispers.

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