Monday, June 1, 2009

Pentecost 2009


GALATIANS 5: 16-25

JOHN 15: 26-27; 16: 12-15

I am again at my monastery for the summer. I am again doing irrigation. That is, I dig ditches haul rocks and build dams. Then I take dams apart and build new ones and dig more ditches, all to move water around on the pastures so the animals will have something to eat.

Up until this summer, I had boots that came to my knees and gloves that came about half way up my forearms. Both are too short for the deep ditches, where often I have to build dams. The best way to build a dam is to stand in the water, and place rocks dirt, and canvas where they need to be to make the dam able to withstand the force of the water that is coming at me. Unfortunately, the ditch is too deep as I build the dam. The very cold water comes over the top of my boots and soaks me pants, socks and the inside of the boot. When I reach down into the ditch to pick up or place a large rock, water comes in over the top of my gloves. This is very hard water. It ruins the skin on my hands.

So I try not to get into the water, but I lose a lot of leverage and the dam does not work very well. I have to keep doing it over and over, plus the rocks are being moved in a way that does not support my back. As an Irish Catholic I could just "offer it up." But I also say a lot of bad words, and this builds up time in purgatory or worse. It seems silly to offer the work to God and than follow that prayer with a lot of bad behavior.

Two years ago I bought some boots that come all the way up to my hip. I brought them to the monastery last summer, 2008. I left them in their box on a shelf. For that whole summer I used the shorter boots. This is crazy, I know. This time, 2009, when I went up to the monastery I put on the hip boots. I also acquired a pair of rubber gloves that came all the way up to my elbows. Now I can stand in the ditch and make the best of dams in a shorter time than ever before. Plus, I don't say bad words and my whole manner is changing to being a more pleasant person. I might go to heaven!

What I needed was new and better suited equipment. The Holy Spirit is new equipment for the spiritual life. Before Pentecost, the disciples were a mess. Among them there were cowards, liars, and disloyal friends to Jesus in his time of need. They had faith in him as the Christ, but no Holy Spirit. When Pentecost came, they received the Holy Spirit. Now they were equipped to go out and do some rather extraordinary things, such as preach, teach, and give up their lives.

They were able to put up with a lot of hardships and difficulties. In Galatians, Paul says that without the Spirit, we tend to, among other things, have outbursts of fury and dissensions. That certainly is me with short boots and gloves. It is also me when I box up the Holy Spirit. Jesus tells his disciples that they have been with him from the beginning but have not received the Spirit. I was baptized as an infant. From almost my very beginnings, I have had the Holy Spirit.

But I would not attend to the Spirit. I boxed it up, which is just as crazy as boxing up my hip boots and not using them. I try and do life on my own terms without God. I am obstinate, and into my own ruts or empty ditches of the soul. With prayer, I attend to the Spirit. I let the Spirit work in my life. God gives me free will. Each day I attend to some lectio reading of Scriptures, to silence, and solitude. Little by little I am changed from within. People will notice. The message of Christ comes by the attraction of our lives.

I now notice that several of the brothers here are attracted to my hips boots. I just ordered three pair for them. When you cooperate with the Spirit in your life, people notice.

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