O Holy Spirit, you are the mighty way in which everything that is in the heavens, on the Earth, and under the Earth, is penetrated with connectedness, penetrated with relatedness. -St. Hildegard of Bingen
“When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place….All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages.”—Acts 2:1
They came from many different places and, yet, they understood each other. They were connected as one in Spirit, united in understanding by the One and Holy Life-Giving Breath of God. Despite their diversity, each person had a uniquely mystical experience. Their different languages were not erased, yet unity was accomplished.
It’s as if for this one day, in this one place, God blessed our diversity and showed that our differences need not divide. It’s as if for this one day, in this one place, it was “on earth as it is in heaven.” All people understood what the other said. They saw themselves as a part of the whole, that their God—the Giver of Life, the Great Communicator and Unifier—resides in them and the other.
The Holy Spirit was sent to bring us into communion with the Divine and with each other. Day to day, we may disagree, and especially these days we seem to be so divided, yet we must remember—we are in this together. We breathe the same breath. We long to belong, and, yet, we cannot achieve this belonging alone. Through the events of Pentecost, we are shown the potential for unity, an exemplar of what can happen if we allow the Holy Spirit to work in and through us, to transform us.
God’s breath is our very breath, the purest evidence that we are made in the image of God. “The Jews did not speak God’s name, but breathed it with an open mouth and throat: inhale–Yah; exhale–weh. By our very breathing, we are speaking the name of God. This makes it our first and our last word as we enter and leave the world.” –Richard Rohr
If only we would let the Breathe of Spirit work. If only we could remember to call upon Yahweh—the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit—with our every breath. If only we could remember to breathe in our circumstances and breathe out peace, breathe in the troubles of the world and breath out love. We can say the name of God with our every breath.
The Psalmist prays, “Send forth your spirit Lord and renew the face of the earth.” God knows, we cannot bring unity to a divided world alone. It is only in God that we even have our breath, this life. We are in constant need of renewal, of forgiveness, of transformation. Let this be our prayer—
Holy Spirit, come into my heart, and in your power, draw it to you. -St. Catherine of Siena
O, Holy Spirit, you are the mighty way. May I “wage peace” with my every breath. Help me remember that I share more connection with others, despite the differences. Help me remember to breathe, to remember that it is through your Spirit that understanding comes.
Wage peace with your breath.
Breathe in firemen and rubble,
Breathe out whole buildings
And flocks of redwing blackbirds.
Breathe in terrorists and breathe out sleeping children and freshly mown fields.
Breathe in confusion and breathe out maple trees.
Breathe in the fall and breathe out lifelong friendships intact.
Wage peace with your listening:
hearing sirens, pray loud.
Remember your tools:
flower seeds, clothespins, clean rivers.
Play music, learn the word for thank you in three languages.
Learn to knit and make a hat.
Think of chaos as dancing raspberries,
Imagine grief as the outbreath of beauty or the gesture of a fish.
Swim for the other side.
Never has the world seemed so fresh and precious.
Have a cup of tea and rejoice.
Act as if armistice has already arrived.
Don’t wait another minute.
-Mary Oliver, Wage Peace