Holy Spirit Doves, Chicks, and Parakeets

This morning the redbirds’ eggs / have hatched and already the chicks

are chirping for food. They don’t / know where it’s coming from, they

just keep shouting, “More! More!”

As to anything else, they haven’t / had a single thought. Their eyes

haven’t yet opened, they know nothing / about the sky that’s waiting. Or

the thousands, the millions of trees. / They don’t even know they have wings.

And just like that, like a  / neighborhood event, a miracle

is taking place. —Mary Oliver

 In recent weeks we have been raising baby chicks at Clivie’s school. It has been a community endeavor. We all watched with breath held and eyes wide open as the little cracks appeared in the eggs, and the chicks wriggled out one by one. We have carefully adjusted the temperature, fed them, and watched them grow. For me, the chicks were the perfect embodiment of the new life of the season of Easter. And as we prepare now to celebrate Pentecost, the growth of those little chicks (now named Blackie, Ninja, Kitty, Sunshine, and Ruby) also invokes the expansion and stirring of the Holy Spirit dove within and among us.  As we move into Pentecost, we, like baby chicks, celebrate our call to new life. Our call to bring people together in new, creative, and life-giving ways; to work for the common good of all Creation; and to shape life practices that allow all to thrive and flourish.  This is truly good news!  This is good news, even—and especially—in the wake of the heartbreaking news about terrorist attacks in Manchester and Jakarta.  Even—and especially—when those old fears seep in at the seams and our anger rises and we have a hard time believing the callous injustice we witness in our world.  Even—and especially—during these times, we have to trust and draw on the spiritual reservoirs of our faith community.  We have to remember that the Holy Spirit is our Advocate—and that the Holy Spirit is moving with us now.

 The Greek word used in John’s gospel for Spirit is paracletos or paraklete (Clivie ironically thought I was saying “parakeet.”).  Parakletos it is often translated as “Advocate,” which can function in a legal sense—literally referring to one who advocates for you before a court of law.  And it can also function more relationally—referring to one who brings help, consolation, comfort, and encouragement when you really need it.  But in any case, the most essential understanding of paracletos must include its most basic meaning, which is “to come alongside another.”  So, according to John, the Holy Spirit is an advocate that comes alongside us, and stands up for us when we need it, speaks on our behalf when we can’t find the words, lends a helping hand when we can’t carry everything on our own, and stays with us when we’re struggling so we will know that we are not alone.  The Spirit will manifest Jesus’s promise that he will not leave us orphaned but will come alongside us. . . .

The Spirit will be by our side when our car stops running, when our anxiety spikes, when we feel bombarded by tragic news, when we can’t get back to sleep, when our health triggers concern, when we’re grieving the loss of a loved one, and when we are uncertain about the future.  The Spirit is our Advocate—coming alongside us in comforting, encouraging, consoling, and caring ways that help us see and know an otherwise invisible God—and also encouraging us and guiding us to come alongside others.  Luring us onward and outward and toward the world with greater and expanding love.  Because this is what the Spirit does:  It slows us down, hatches new things, creates meaningful change in our lives, transforms our hearts, reassures us that we are not alone.  It reminds us to look our neighbors in the eye, to really see those around us, and it invites us to stand up and speak out and demand justice for both friends and strangers.  In other words, the Holy Spirit creates miracles all around us—and it invites us into those miracles. 

I look forward to celebrating the cracking open of this Pentecost miracle with you on June 4. May the Fire and Breath of the Holy Parakeet descend.  Much Love, Rev. Jeanne