“I just don’t like it, the Holy Spirit. I don’t understand it. And I really don’t like that name.”
Peter looked at me, just a little startled, and levelly replied, “Well… it’s the Holy Spirit.”
“Okay. But do we have to call it that? It’s such an uncomfortable name. And I still just don’t know what it is.”
I hadn’t been with CCW for a year, and I was already putting up lanterns and gossiping about the Holy Spirit.
I grew up saying the Holy Spirit’s name and hearing stories about Her (Him? Them? It?). I hastily prayed one of Her names every time I did the sign of the cross (“Father-Son-Holy Ghost-Amen”) and I felt familiar enough with the stories. The Holy Spirit descended on Jesus like a dove and affirmed to Him, His belovedness as God’s child. Jesus told His disciples to gather so that the Holy Spirit, full of His Power, may fully fall on them. (And He said that whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven…)
But I still didn’t really have any idea who the Holy Spirit was. And, to be honest, I wasn’t particularly interested in finding out. I was content to sing, “Holy Spirit, you are welcome here,” and just trust that in a dusty corner of my heart that the Spirit was doing what She needed to do, without me.
I was less than thrilled when I felt God calling me into a season of the Spirit this spring, but her warmth nonetheless spread into my heart. I found myself staring into flames and seeking out wildflowers. I would pause at night to look up worship music videos, and then spend an hour watching them. For the first time in too long, I knelt and said aloud the names of those I loved and murmured my hopes for them. I had deep conversations with God about a $1 Bible Study that I still only reluctantly bought. Some moments would flicker with the spark of God’s presence, and I would marvel at them until my wandering heart blew them out. I desperately asked the Holy Spirit to tell me what to do, plainly misinterpreted Her request, then turned and asked again.
Paul has a lot to say about the Holy Spirit in Romans 8. He writes that we “are in the Spirit, since the Spirit of God dwells in [us]” (Romans 8:9). It is the Spirit, he insists, that helps us in our weakness, pleading to God on our behalf even when we can’t find our own words (8:26). It is the Spirit who reconciles us with our identities as children of God, who raised Christ from the dead, who reminds us that all things work for the good of those who love God (8:14, 8:11, 8:28).
The Holy Spirit is still, eternally, doing Her work in me. Although I’ve taken to calling Her “flowers,” I still haven’t found a definition of Her that seems to fit. And I don’t know if I will ever understand how She works. But I know Her touch, and I’m learning Her voice. I know She’s there when I feel safe. I see Her in the faces of my friends. I feel united with Her when I grieve and when I sing songs from my childhood. I feel Her flow through me when I reserve my words to build up and not tear down. She is the peace in my confusion, the steady rock at the center of my fear, the gentle whisper when my brain is shouting.
You may be Her best friend or, like me, you may be her frenemy. I’ve learned that you don’t have to be near or far for Her to pull you close. I pray that today She may show you anew that no height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate you from the love of God in Christ Jesus (8:39). May She wrap you in His love and guide you on your way.