It was Confirmation day, my confirmation, and since it was a beautiful day in my hometown in Indiana, I decided to walk to my parish, Our Lady of Guadalupe, only a few blocks away. What started off as an amazing day, all of a sudden changed with a strong wind that was soon accompanied by a downpour. As I hurried to the church, the wind tossed my afro back and forth throwing into my hair all kinds of debris flying through the neighborhood streets. And, what I thought was an incredible outfit — a mustard yellow lace shirt, similar color bell bottom pants and grey platform shoes — were no longer the same as when I left my home. I had been so tossed about and buffeted by the wind that I did not resemble the person reflected in my mirror only a few minutes earlier. Rain soon approached me as I ran and reached for the church door. Voila! I was only slightly wet but still a mess. I was no longer a tidy and fashionable teenager, but a terrible mess!
I must admit that this moment in my life as a teenager was a dramatic one, so much so, that I can still recall most of the details that occurred that day. What started as a simple walk had become more complicated. I remembered asking myself if this was a sign of the Spirit terrifically blessing me in and through this unwelcomed mess or was it just bad weather? Could God’s Spirit truly be leading me and guiding me and blessing me into a life of grace? Was the Spirit reminding me, along the way, of where I came from and where God was leading me? This was an impressionable moment in my young life. Later, I felt as if the Confirmation ceremony was superfluous because I had been anointed along the way through that powerful experience. I was tossed about into a new way of life and preached to in a thunderous proclamation that affirmed that God was in charge and I was loved by this God. This was the power of God’s Spirit! I would be a fool if I were to deny this tremendous gift afforded to me, not because I deserved it, but because God wanted to communicate to me that I was loved. This was no ordinary moment but an extraordinary moment, if I was open to it. It was an affirmation of what I had already come to know. There is no life for me outside of a life rooted in Christ.
Today, as we celebrate Pentecost, we hear about a similarly dramatic event that took place in Jerusalem according to our first reading in Acts. This event appears to be unlike anything they had heard, seen or experienced before. In the Acts account there is astonishment, amazement, fear and questions, always questions, and of course, a strong wind. Here is that wind again! We are told that those that were gathered in that one place saw and experienced the dramatic in an unfamiliar way. In fact, we are told that a large gathering of folks in Jerusalem witnessed these followers behavior. At first these observers were confused and eventually they were astonished and amazed as well. These followers of Christ that were once afraid had been changed and now they were out in public proclaiming and preaching yet being understood in a variety of native languages reflected in the diverse crowd.
It seems to me that at times, there are legitimate moments when that which is out of the ordinary may manifest in our spiritual lives. It is our openness to those moments that can deepen and/or even change us for it doesn’t seem to happen often. In these transformations our language changes too. We even begin to speak in a tongue that has been compromised or even forgotten. A language of love, kindness, inclusion and mercy, a hopeful language that opens us to recognize our connectedness to one another, not as strangers, but rather as adopted daughters and sons of God.
Veni, Sancte Spiritus!