The Feast of Pentecost
Sunday 31 May 2020
Following recorded messages of community members reflecting on what “being the church” means to them.
Shining with Pentecost light ©Suzanne Grimmett
‘There is a quiet light that shines in every heart,’ says John O’Donohue. ‘Each and every life is clothed in raiment of spirit that secretly links it to everything else. Though suffering and chaos befall us, they can never quench that inner light…’1
I wonder perhaps if that is what the tongues of fire are all about on the Day of Pentecost? Was it in fact that the light that was already there was made visible? That raiment of spirit that secretly links us all to God and to one another was in that moment glimpsed in some way. Those gathered there were given the gift of seeing one another in all their God-given glory, and hearing and understanding another in the essential unity that was made possible by the Spirit.
Thomas Merton captured his own Pentecost moment in his writing when he looked around and saw the light blazing within everyone who was around him. He describes the presence of God in us all like this;
At the centre of our being is a point of nothingness which is untouched by sin and by illusion, a point of pure truth, a point or spark which belongs entirely to God….
It is like a pure diamond, blazing with the invisible light of heaven. It is in everybody, and if we could see it we would see these billions of points of light coming together in the face and blaze of a sun that would make all the darkness and cruelty of life vanish completely . . . . I have no program for this seeing. It is only given. But the gate of heaven is everywhere. 2
I think during the Covid-19 crisis we have all been responding spiritually in different ways, praying together though apart, loving and serving one another though distanced, watching with keen eyes for injustice and working to address human need though isolated. We have and we are, being the church. And I think through this all, many of us are recognising that within themselves, too, is that point at the centre like a pure diamond, the invisible, but vibrant light of heaven.
And so we speak words of love. We offer comfort in whatever ways we can. We give the gift of our friendship and our solidarity with those who are suffering through these times.
And we bless one another. Where the church has conveyed the impression that blessing is the sole mandate of the priesthood it has done great harm. Each and every one of us has the power to bless. Blessing is not asking or pleading or teaching. A blessing is an intimacy that can heal and transfigure, reminding the one who is blessed that they bear the image of God and reawakening in both the bless-er and the blessed an acknowledgement of the Divine ground of their souls.
So may we continue to shine with that quiet, invisible light, and have the eyes to see the glory of God in one another and all creation. And may the Pentecost Spirit be animated in us all, that, as we pray every week in the prayer of our meditation group, our hearts may be opened to the vision of God, and so to each other, in love and peace, justice and human dignity.
1 John O’ Donohue, Benedictus: A Book of Blessings (Bantam Press, London: 2007), 14
2 Thomas Merton, Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander (Image Books: 1968), 158.