During my childhood years, I was introduced to the Holy Spirit through a picture of a group of people gathered together, with small flames hovering over each one’s head. I remember thinking to myself, “Wow! The Holy Spirit is awesome!” I didn’t know then the reality and magnitude of that impression.
As we celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit into the lives of the Apostles and ours on the feast of Pentecost, I would like to share something of what this has meant to me personally and how my understanding has evolved and deepened over the years.
I am discovering that one of the good aspects of the so-called “Golden Years” is being able to look back over my life and realize how God’s Holy Spirit, the Great Spirit, has been growing within me and around me, guiding me into fullness of life. I am beginning to understand more clearly what the “indwelling of the Holy Spirit” truly means, not just for me but for all of creation.
Reflecting on some of the difficult turning points in my life when I was dealing with uncertainty and struggling to make choices, I have become aware of how God’s Spirit was that “still, small voice” coming to me through many people and events. With time, my spirit was lifted, and I was guided toward what eventually turned out to be surprisingly good after much resistance and dragging of feet! I often ask myself, “How did that happen?” and realize it was beyond me and my capabilities. It was God’s loving Spirit at work. This continues to happen over and over again!
I am also realizing to a greater extent how all of creation is permeated with the loving presence of God’s Spirit, and how that connects us at all levels of existence. I believe that this interconnectedness calls us to engagement with the Spirit’s creative energy and to deeply care about the life and well-being of all.
Today, amid the turmoil and transformation gripping us on our planet it gives me some hope to believe that fear can be replaced with courage, anxiety with trust, and control with loving self-surrender when God’s Spirit is in our lives. But I also know that this is not a reality for so many who are trapped by the flames of hatred, war, poverty, and destruction of life. Being aware of this can be overwhelming, and yet I’m reminded that the energy and power of the ocean flows from the combination of small drops of water. And so it may be that prayer and engagement on the part of individuals throughout the world can be a power for good beyond our imagination.
Come Holy Spirit, enkindle in all the fire of your love and renew the face of the earth!
– Sister Barbara Paul, OP
A native of St. Louis, Sister Barbara is enjoying the many opportunities for prayer and contemplation in her retirement at Dominican Convent in Sparkill.