June 12, 2019
"When Jesus had been baptized, just as he came up from the water, suddenly the heavens were opened to him and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, 'This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased'" (Matthew 3:16-17). Last Sunday, we celebrated Pentecost, the day when the Holy Spirit rested upon the Apostles like tongues of fire. On the day when Jesus was baptized, though, the Holy Spirit came in a different shape: that of a dove. The poet Barbara Crooker observes in her poem "Sanctus" that: "In paintings, / the Holy Ghost usually takes the form of a stylized dove, / its whiteness a blaze of purity." Then she wonders, "But what if / it's really a mourning dove, ordinary as daylight / in its old coat, nothing you'd ever notice."
Holidays like Pentecost lead us to associate the Holy Spirit with the extraordinary, with the blazing fire of charismatic gifts, loud music, and powerful preaching. But none of us live in the extraordinary all the time. The Church calendar even reflects this by calling the season between Pentecost and Advent "Ordinary Time." As we now settle into Ordinary Time, God invites us to look for his presence in the everyday details of life. What if God's Spirit is swirling around us now, just like the Eurasian Collared Doves who fly through my backyard everyday? How can we tune our ears to listen for God's voice in the ordinary? As Crooker concludes her poem, when the dove, "opens his beak, / isn't he calling your name, sweet and low, You, you, you?"
May the Lord give us eyes to see and ears to hear. Amen.
Grace and Peace,