Tuesday, May 29, 2007

We are not alone

We’ve both wondered at times if we have lost our minds.

The details of just how we will make our journey happen are a bit overwhelming. Sometimes I get afraid. But then there are moments of peace. Like on Saturday afternoon.

We encountered a cardinal on Saturday afternoon. We saw him first as a flash of red in the olive tree in the front yard. We had just come home from some errands. And there he was. I’ve only seen a cardinal a couple of times in a couple of years in Tucson. This time felt sacred.

We drove by him at first when we were coming into the driveway, but then I backed up after Kate got a glance of him. We watched him for a while, then he flew out of the tree, onto the ground and hopped toward us. Hello, I said. He looked toward our car. Turned his head to the left. Hopped toward us again. Turned his head to the right. Danced around a bit. Then flew back to a low branch.

He was a sacred visitor.

Saturday was the day before Pentecost—the day each year that the Christian tradition remembers when God as Spirit first came to both comfort and fire up the followers of Jesus. The next day, we would walk into church through a sea of red streamers and banners. Red is the color church tradition calls on for festive days like Pentecost.

On Pentecost the church celebrates that this passionate, prodding presence is still with us. Some times the Holy Spirit is depicted as a dove, as fire, or as wind. I once heard Desmond Tutu, the former archbishop of South Africa, say the Holy Spirit is like someone poking us from behind with a stick to get us moving.

Our little red friend felt like an encounter with the Holy Spirit herself. Hello, I am here with you. It is time to get moving.

At the 8 o’clock service, Kate read from the book of John in the Christian scriptures before she preached. “Jesus said to them,” she read, “…Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.”

The words sunk into me. The way the ground drinks in water here in the desert.

In her sermon Kate said, “The sermon I most often preach to you is put down your nets and follow Jesus. And I feel I would be a hypocrite if I did not do the same.”

It is not easy to put down our steady incomes, our health insurance, our back yard with a view of the mountains, a church community of people we love. But it is clear to us. We must go.

Because we aren’t the only ones who are thirsty for peace. Thirsty for signs of life. Thirsty for evidence that we are not alone. That we are not crazy. That there are other ways to live than gripped by fear.

We will go. But we know that we don’t go alone.

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