"Beauty in the Wilderness"
On this day Christians throughout the world celebrate the "Feast of Pentecost," the day when, after his life on earth, the spirit of the living Christ came upon the gathered-together disciples to be with them until the end of time.
According to the Pentecost story in the Christian scriptures, unsure of what to do next because Jesus was no longer with them, the apostles huddle together in a room and are suddenly surprised by an overwhelming sense of Christ's presence among them. A power of intense love represented by burning tongues of flame resting over the heads of each of the disciples, empowering them to go out into the world and continue the work Jesus had first begun.
Like each and every one of the biblical stories (of any tradition) if we only think of this Pentecost story as a long-ago event happening to a select group of chosen people, the story will have little impact on most any of us in our life nowadays. But I don't see this story as a distant historical narrative.
For me the Pentecost narrative is far more iconic of the spiritual journey, not only the journey for Christians, but the journey of any who walk on a spiritual path.
Christians often think of Pentecost as a time when the Holy Spirit "descended" upon the disciples (and ultimately upon the whole church); but I don't quite care for the image of "God's Spirit" descending - it implies that "God" is some sort of heavenly being separated from us, living up there and out there, "coming down" to us here on earth.
I think instead that Pentecost is a day to celebrate "enlightenment," awareness of a Presence that was and is already intimately here. The story of Pentecost is a story about gathered-together disciples who become aware that God (the Holy Spirit) is powerfully in their midst, a burning power of love intimately at the core of their being.
So it is for all of us, divine Presence, the force of Love that energizes the entire universe, is always among us, not outside us but intimately at our core, more intimate to us than we are to ourselves, separated from us by a thin veil of awareness.
Sometimes that veil gets really thin, and for a time it may even fall away - that's when flames of enlightenment rest over our heads.
Poet and author, John O'Donohue puts it this way:
Sometimes the urgency of our hunger blinds us to the fact that
we are already at the feast.
To accept this can change everything; we are always home, never exiled.
Although our minds constantly insist on seeing walls of separation,
in reality most of the walls are mere veils.
In every moment, everywhere,
we are not even inches away from divine presence.
Whether you are a Christian or not, the "Feast of Pentecost" is an opportunity for all of us to heighten our awareness of the truth that we are already at the feast - already living and moving in the energy of a higher power, the universal energy of Love flowing in and through everything that is.
Today inspires me to think of a line from something once written by the Sufi poet, Rumi:
Love is here.
It is the blood in my veins.
Its fire has flooded the nerves of my body.