Originally published on tvprays.org (May 14, 2020)
“Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words.” (Romans 8:26)
One of the online groups I am part of was reflecting recently on friendship. It is always interesting, sometimes disheartening and sometimes wonderful, but always interesting, which friends show up for a relationship when I am in trouble. Likewise, we reflected, it has been interesting during the time of the pandemic to see which friends have shown up to be in relationship.
After that conversation I decided I am extra grateful that God, through the Holy Spirit, always shows up. Sometimes the Spirit shows up in other people but sometimes the Spirit provides comfort and solace in silence, music, a scripture passage, a story in the newspaper, the beauty of the natural world. The Spirit is harder to describe than the other members of the Trinity, and I am not going to do much of that work here. But we can take some cues from the Father and the Son. The members of the Trinity are distinct, but I think it is safe to say that what we learn about one member is often carried over to another member. The creativity of God the Father and Creator is surely also part of the Spirit’s character. The love embodied in all of Jesus’ healing and eating with strangers and blessing so many is also part of the Spirit’s character.
Thanks be to God that the Holy Spirit is present and active and here to accompany us, sometimes comforting us and sometimes giving us a much-needed kick in the pants. Which of those I need during the pandemic may vary based on the day or even the hour.
This could be a great season in the life of the larger church and in our individual homes for becoming more comfortable talking with the Spirit and even talking about the Spirit. I of course know to pray for healing and wisdom and strength, but beyond that I do not always know how to pray these days. In another online gathering I was a part of, several people spoke of “decision fatigue.” That phrase captured much of my own feelings. I have a healthy network of support and I still feel overwhelmed and alone sometimes. I take comfort in the words from Romans, “That very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words.” Thank goodness for the friend who will always show up—the Holy Spirit.
I take great comfort right now that the source of my strength does not have to come from within me. As I try to continue serving my neighbor, as I support my parishioners and colleagues, as I check in on my family and friends, I do not have to depend on my own strength or love or even will. There is something beyond me that provides. That something has a name, God, and in my everyday life, God has a specificity—Holy Spirit. We are not alone in our loneliness. We are not abandoned. The Holy Spirit will always accompany us.
Prayer: Christ Jesus, by your Spirit you come and kindle a burning light in us. We know well that it is not we who create this source of light, but you, the Risen Lord. To all of us, you give the one thing that matters and which is hidden from our own eyes: a peaceful trust in God and also poverty in spirit, so that with a great thirst for the realities of God, we may take the risk of letting you accompany us, O Christ, and of accompanying in our turn, those whom you entrust to us. (Brother Roger, Taize)