For some people believing in God doesn’t work. One friend, a scientist, requires proof that can be objectively quantified and measured. Another friend attended a Christian seminary. For a few years he served as a chaplain on a college campus. But it didn’t fit for him. He wasn’t a theist. The concept of a God that is involved and engages our human condition doesn’t fit for everyone.
But that’s not me.
Since I was a boy I have been graced with a deep-seated belief that God is real. My belief can’t be measured or quantified. It is based not so much on doctrinal teachings but an experience of that which my tradition calls Spirit. While my understanding of God continues to evolve, my awareness of a sacred presence remains with me.
In Judaism (Genesis 1: 1,2) the Spirit of God is reflected in the word ruach which speaks of the breath of the Creator bringing the cosmos into being. In the Gospels the word for Spirit is pneuma which like ruach reflects the essence of the Divine being breathed into creation, including you and me. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ruach_(Kabbalah) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pneuma
Why does the Spirit resonate for some of us and not for others?
What I have is my experience and the stories that others share with me. Experiences that are sometimes subtle and other times ecstatic. Witnessing to the movement of the Creator’s breath being breathed into ordinary lives.
Theologian Gerrit Scott Brown offers that receiving the gift of Spirit requires an openness. What he calls ‘radical availability’:
Heeding God’s call can mean leaving home and all that is familiar. It can demand our accumulated wealth and security or dare us to place our blessings, even our lives, at risk. It can also mean simply living where we are but with an entirely new set of priorities. In every case, our particular vocation in God’s service arises from our response to the basic call to radical availability.
This Sunday in my tradition is Pentecost. That day when the Holy Spirit entered into a dispirited, fearful group of Jesus’ followers. The Spirit filled and transformed them. Transformed from fear to courage, from despair to hope. (Acts 2: 1 – 13)
The Spirit filled and inspired these ordinary men and women to leave the safety of what they knew, for the promise of being both blessed and a blessing.
For me the Spirit is real. As familiar as the air I breathe and the sun against my face.
I can’t objectively prove, measure or quantify this ethereal gift called Spirit. Nor do I feel the need to. All I can do is share my story and say ‘thank you’ for this gift.