Thursday, October 11, 2018

“I Long to Receive, Spirit of God” by Beth DeCristofaro

“I Long to Receive, Spirit of God” by Beth DeCristofaro

O stupid Galatians! Who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified? I want to learn only this from you: did you receive the Spirit from works of the law, or from faith in what you heard? (Galatians 3:1-2)

If you then, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him? (Luke 11:13)

Teach me to receive, Lord.  Teach me to be open to the joy of the Spirit.  And teach me to act always seeking, understanding that through suffering and trust I come to know your work within me.

Scripture offers many images to help lead us to a closer relationship with – if not some fracture of understanding of – the Divine.  Burning Bush.  Whirlwind.  Stranger.  Mother Hen.  Shepherd.  A golden flaming Throne, Vineyard Owner.  Patiently Waiting Father.  Poor Woman Searching.  Here we have a sleeping Friend and a “wicked” Parent.  Many facets.  Overreaching mercy, love, generosity, dominion.  Waiting with open arms,  God is not out there but right here in many simple, pastoral forms.

Julian of Norwich wrote of today’s image.  “(A) vision taught me that God is very pleased when we continually search for him. We cannot do more than seek, suffer and trust; and this itself is the work of the Holy Spirit in the soul. And the brilliance of finding him: that comes from the Spirit’s special grace, when it is his will. Seeking with faith, hope and love pleases our Lord and finding him pleases the soul, filling it full of joy. And so, I learned that as long as God allows us to struggle on this earth, seeking is as good as seeing. It is God's will for us to go on seeking until we see him, for it is because of this that he will show himself to us in his special grace when he so wills.

“God will then teach the soul how to hold him in this gaze. This is what brings the most glory to him and does most to help us, making us most open to receiving humility and other virtues by the grace and guidance of the Holy Spirit. For a soul that does nothing but hold on to God, with very great trust, either to seek him or to see him, is, it seems to me, offering the best possible praise to God….

“God works in secret and yet wants to be perceived…. And he wants to be trusted, for he is such a gracious and loving friend. Praise him!” [i]  

As Colleen’s reflection reminded us, prayer includes listening for God’s voice under our own.  Sometimes we fall into knocking while looking back over our shoulder, running away before our friend opens or shouting in frustration and doubt “open up damn you” while not really listening for the answer nor holding our hands out for the loaf of bread we asked for.  We are too easily distracted by the sparkly things in life which we mistake for the Spirit of God – our good name, our rising star, a “how it used to be” gilded priority, our own answers to life.

Take a moment and review what are you asking God for?  How well are you listening to the answers God has lovingly, graciously for you?  God gives us the door and it is always to open for us.  We alone can close it in our own hearts.

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