For every moment of stillness and centering tranquility I’ve experienced with the Lord in prayer, I’ve had forty moments of being bopped around by the Spirit like a party balloon.
“Come Holy Spirit” is a dangerous thing to say, no doubt. It could lead one out of a very fine work situation and take him back to school. It could persuasively re-convince him that yes, the celibate life is possible. It could take him geographically away from his family, friends, and country, and supplant him in a variety of other locations south of the border. It could challenge his mind and heart – testing them, pushing them, all in the service of forming them.
“Come Holy Spirit” could change everything.
OK – so we’ve all been warned. But I must admit that I didn’t know all of this when I began discerning the priesthood and religious life (again) back in 2008. Should I have known what was coming? Well, I suppose I could have looked for patterns. In fact, this is a great Lenten exercise.
Looking at the pattern, is it strange that I joined The Missionary Society of St. Paul the Apostle? In some respects yes; in other respects, no. I struggle, for example, with sustained sameness. As a young lad when I heard the sound of planes flying out of Fredericton Airport I wanted to be on them so bad I could almost taste those too-small bags of pretzels. Enough is enough, I thought; I’ve done what I need to do here. On to the next!
After my first year of University I could not take the prospect of three to four more years of school without adventurous interruption. And so, just like that, I found myself at eighteen years old washing dishes at a hotel and golf resort in rural Country Wicklow, Ireland. A year later I was at a restaurant enjoying some liver and onions in Ladysmith, South Africa. A few years later I was hopping a dala dala in Lushoto, Tanzania. Now I am in Columbus, Ohio. How about that?
There are patterns. My pattern includes an affinity for the next adventure. I am routinely called away by the Spirit – from my surroundings, from my “normal,” and even from the working concept of myself.
Bounced around as I have been, I have never been called from flourishing into something less. Only in stopping, smelling, and savouring can I properly appreciate that fact. I suppose I could read the paragraph above, listing all of the results of “Come Holy Spirit” in my life, and think “Gee…maybe I am giving up too much.” But even as I acknowledge and consider those things, I am not led to dwell on them. I am a blessed man, and pity cannot stand up to purpose.
The Holy Spirit has been bold with me. Thank you, Holy Spirit, and please, come again.