And so Pentecost comes! Traditionally the liturgical colors are red with yellow, reflecting the fire that alighted on the heads of the faithful in Act’s story of that event, signifying the illumination and power of the Holy Spirit. But Maren Tirabassi, contemporary liturgist and prophet, has called our attention to the fact that in some circumstances, this year, for instance, flame and wind are not positive and encouraging symbols; in the case of the horrendous fire in Alberta, Canada, and in other places around our planet, fire is only a force for destruction and devastation. So she in her winsome and provocative blog, Gifts In Open Hands, has lifted up other metaphors for the Holy Spirit. Her musings immediately pointed me to that earlier medieval liturgist and prophet, Hildegard of Bingen.
From one of her visions Hidegard sees God declare:
I am the breeze that nurtures all things green…I am the rain coming from the dew that causes the grass to laugh with joy of life…I am the yearning for the good.
It is the greenness of the Spirit I am longing for this year. Dr. Rebecca Button Prichard in her book Sensing the Spirit (Chalice Press, 1999), says:
The Spirit of greenness is visible in a way that transcends metaphor, analogy and imagery. The Creativity that causes leaves to unfold and buds to flower is the Creator Spirit, the One who broods over creation still. (50)
So many people and places in life I encounter need the greening from the Spirit inside to bring life back, to bring healing throughout, to spring back into fruitful encounter with the Holy and the world. And I feel the need of it in places in me. I often pray that poetic voice of T.S. Eliot, “Oh, thou Lord of Life, send my roots rain!”
I am looking at new plantings of a more drought resistant grass in the small patch of lawn in my back yard. They are bright green as they take root, and they need much less water than our previous sward. They remind me of places where I would invite the Spirit to bring her nurture into greenness–my energy for coming alongside others, my patience for sitting still and listening as the Holy One speaks, my perseverance in doing those things that will bring good for others, now and in the future, my openness to hearing, seeing and sensing what is new. I would love my life of prayer to become jade green, shining and gem-like in its consistency and beauty. I would like to wander down forest green paths of Mystery that I have not yet discovered. I pray that my encounters with those I meet be bright kelly green, sparking with mutual compassion and appreciation. The colors of all life will be brightened with a fresh infusion of the greening of the Spirit.
After this Eastertide past with equal shares of Light and Darkness in our world, I find myself needing to sing this hymn for Easter and beyond:
Now the green blade rises from the buried grain, wheat that in the dark earth many days has lain; love lives again, that with the dead has been: love is come again like wheat arising green.
When our hearts are wintry, grieving or in pain, your touch can call us back to life again; fields of our hearts that dead and bare have been: love is come again like wheat arising green. (John M.C. Crum, 1928)
Come, Holy Spirit, green my heart!
Image created by Marcy Hall for Abbey of the Arts