I like to be able to control things, or at least fool myself into thinking I can control them. I think that this is why I am not that comfortable with the Holy Spirit. It is the part of the Trinity that I try not to think about. I think that this comes from my fear of what could happen if I let the Holy Spirit have a go at my life or the situation that I am in, because you hear stories of what happens when you let go and let the Holy Spirit in.
In the Anglican circles that I have travelled, the Holy Spirit is really not talked about that much. The Holy Spirit seems to have been relegated to a last resort: when we don’t know what else to say or do, we invoke her to come and blow in a wind of change. The Holy Spirit seems to be last on our invite list and I am sure she has been left out in the cold many times. So what to do? How can I become comfortable with her? How can the church?
For myself, I decided to revisit my understanding of the Holy Spirit. The images that came to mind were of Glinda the Good Witch floating in a pink bubble, a dove, and that scary wind and flame. Not very helpful images, are they?
When trying to consider more helpful images, I was drawn to the altar here in the Convent of the Sisterhood of St. John the Divine. The altar has three panels, each depicting a feminine image of God: the pelican, a symbol of sacrifice; the phoenix, a symbol of resurrection; and the eagle, a symbol of ascension.
Yes, I know these are yet more bird images, but after praying with them, I have come to see the Holy Spirit that I want to journey with me. I want her to encourage me to look beyond my own walls, like the pelican, to sacrifice my own selfishness and to push past self-set limitations…to sit with me as I weep over the ashes of my life, like the phoenix, and to help me raise yet again a little closer to the person whom I am called to be… helping me, like the eagle, make that leap of faith. Trusting in the wings that I have been given, that will help me soar, but also calling me to experience the joy of the flight. Calling, encouraging and challenging me to embrace what has been given to me.
This is the Holy Spirit that journeys with me! She is one that cannot be contented or tamed and she in turn asks us-no, demands from us-not to be contented or tamed but to live with the desire and excitement of our calling.
*The Sisterhood of St. John the Divine is a contemporary expression of the religious life for women in the Anglican Church of Canada.