I walked into worship this week with my emotions swirling. On Friday, there was another school shooting. These shootings cause me to be unable to breathe or even to string my thoughts together. This time, the shooting was in Texas. This time, it was in the high school in Santa Fe, Texas where our daughter served as a Speech Pathologist in the past few years. This time, it was the halls she walked, the students she knew and her colleagues that faced the unthinkable.
Our youngest son is going into the military. I am worrying in advance for his safety. On Friday, I realized I need to worry equally for my daughter, my middle son and my husband because they all work in schools. Could this really be our reality?
On edge about that, I was also aware of the tender time of year it is with graduations and school year milestones, recitals, programs and stress. I was feeling, as well, the weight of people’s stories: difficult diagnoses, grief, job angst, aging parent woes, struggles with mental health and more.
I sat in the pew wondering how in the world we could even bear it all.
Then, the children’s sermon reminded me. The children were asked what special day it was right now. No one said anything about the royal wedding (although wasn’t that a refreshing reminder of the power of love and new life?) No one mentioned the Preakness or the weekend’s golf tournament. The kids didn’t mention end of school or graduations, reunions or recitals. After a bit of awkward silence, just one child said softly “It is Pentecost.”
How that child knew that I have no idea. I’m sure the majority of the adults gathered probably didn’t quite know that. It is, to me, one of the hardest to grasp of the Christian days. It is the day we celebrate the gift of God’s spirit sweeping in to empower, change and embolden the Christian movement.
It is our yearly reminder that we Christians have this resource, this Spirit that helps us bear all things. As spiritual people, we are called to see what is not visible. We are asked to receive our power. energy and coping skills from some part of God that is more like wind and flame than anything black and white. We are asked to live by, in and through something no one can even see.
It’s so flimsy and hard to grasp that I even sometimes forget and I have been an ordained Christian pastor almost 31 years now.
We have this spirit, this manifestation of God that is always with us. This spirit equips us to face the unbearable. This spirit gives us the courage, the voice to make changes where there is evil, injustice and pain. This spirit calls us forward in big, new and surprising ways.
If we were left on our own, I do not believe we could go on. I do not believe we could find hope. If we were left to our own resources, we would be lost/hosed/doomed.
But, thank God, we are not.
Once, I spoke at a very difficult funeral. I did not know what to say so I shared this: “I told God, I cannot bear this. I cannot. And God whispered back, ‘You can’t bear it. It is too much. Just hold it up to my Light.'” That whisper was the Holy Spirit, our resource. Come, Holy Spirit. We cannot bear this world alone. Amen
Dr. Cindy Ryan is a pastor, mother of three, Mimosa to Keller and Pace and breast cancer survivor. This blog entry is written in memory of Lina Finau.