Spirit of the Living God
Tony E Dillon-Hansen
Reflection based upon John 15, Psalm 104, and Acts 2.
Recent conversations and in preparing services for my cousin this weekend, I found myself ruminating over the Spirit of God, Advocate or Holy Spirit.
That leads me to tell you a story about a fellow from a many years ago…
It is a story that is shared by many including those from my patron saint of Anthony of Padua, also Francis of Assisi, Augustine of Hippo, interestingly many other writers across faiths echo some sentiments of this. It is one of the reasons I enjoy reading from the Gospel of John because Jesus invites us to feel (or witness) the presence and mystery of God in so many ways.
What is this mystery?
The power and mystery of God can readily be expressed and experienced (fully and without fear) through that of the Holy Spirit. Again, Jesus in the Gospels invites us to consider God in our hearts and the Spirit all around us.
I can tell you all day long how to get there, to feel it (it takes practice), but to describe, I do no justice.
When you do feel it, you can feel it and you know it. We witness the presence of God best when are hearts are free and our minds let go. Just like our story, when you just sit and let God, you will find the spirit working for us and with us – that when we don’t try to force it or dominate it – but instead just let the Spirit reveal to us.
That is part of the grace people feel in the arts, in martial arts or any activity when you fully immerse yourself into what you do. In those moments you let go of every other thing and focused upon now. This is one way people who do mindful mediation – focus upon the breath. Yes the Spirit of God transcends cultures and activities (not just prayer/meditation – although great place to start). In those moments, you may experience the Spirit even if you don’t necessarily recognize in that moment. The spirit is working with you and you with it.
In the moments when you feel stress and difficulty, that is when we really need to take a moment and we can find a little smile by connecting to the Spirit.
You see, when you fully embrace and embody all that is there around you – you can transform and reach. You can see things, hear things and walk with the Spirit in that experience – and beyond.
St Paul echoes in Romans “hope that is seen is not true hope” similar notions found in Tao Te Ching, the true Tao/the true spirit cannot be described. I find that to be true. For me to describe the experience of the Spirit in words is really to distract from the justice, the grace, the promise, the love and the joy the spirit provides. And… You can get there. That is one of the reasons you will often hear me talk about “letting go and letting God.”
It is fair to say this is a mystical experience (to say the least) but one that helps us begin to understand the mystery of God and to flourish in that mystery. To flourish and commune with the Spirit that surrounds us, binds us and makes us. This is part of what Master Yoda in Star Wars means when challenging young Luke on who we are (not just flesh and bone “crude matter”) but we “are luminous beings” full of spirit that helps us connect with the greater wisdom of God. There we can find great strength, courage and peace.
You may even think, Tony has flipped his mind – and you may be correct. But there is something to this I guarantee. I can tell you when you experience, then you too might sound like someone flipped their mind.
Even in phone call across vast miles, we can commune in pray not only with the grieving widow but also listen for the Spirit working through us together. We can experience this - amazing - individually and together like this. Through breathing, sitting, seeing, walking and seeing even more. We don’t have to have all of the answers. We don’t have to force it or pretend even, but we can let God work.
Maybe if we all just sit a moment, and let God’s Spirit be with us, there would be no need for violence, there would be no poverty, there would be no struggle. That is God’s kingdom for us – the holy city on the hills.
Yet we live in this world, and we know there is so much that challenges us like the violence, arguments over political divides, struggles for mental health (it is Mental Health awareness month) or helping the homeless.
There are stresses all over, and many things out of our control.
Help where you can, like giving food to the homeless – or helping those that do. Let God take care of what we cannot control, and most importantly, let God take care of you. There is the Spirit of God ready to guide you and you – to help realize God’s kingdom right here and now.
I may not be able to cure the world’s ills or physical pain, but through the Spirit we can journey together and we can find healing. Maybe that is the point. Sit and Walk with the spirit. Let it work with you. Feel it tickle your heart. Let it guide you and your actions.
Then, you too may experience the grace, comfort and amazement of wiser people than I and all of us who learned from them.
Thanks Be to God