At last Sunday's worship service, a couple named Eric and Emily sang their original songs. During their first song, I closed my eyes and listened, just listened, as they sang of God's goodness.
And I sank into the Spirit.
No words accurately capture these moments of trust and faith and intense awareness of connection to the divine. If you've had such a moment, you know exactly what I mean. If you haven't, well, let's just say that it's rapture, warmth, comfort, peace, trust, joy, and love pouring into and out of every cell in your body all at once. And that doesn't do it justice by a long shot.
The ecstasy didn't last long (at least for me...perhaps mystics and monks can maintain it longer), but its aftermath left me feeling refreshed, strong, and tuned in to and trusting God, and filled to the brim of my soul with gratitude for a song-length moment of spiritual saturation.
You may remember my Word of the Year is Gratitude. Oh, yes. I'm grateful for that song Eric and Emily sang, for the Spirit that closed my eyes all the better to listen, for a moment of new creation.
Years ago, worship services made me fidgety. My mind wandered often, and I would write notes on my bulletin...to-do and grocery lists, mostly. I found it hard to concentrate on God. Even during prayer, my mind would wander to things I needed to do, things I worried about, things I wanted to fix. I would stop talking to God and start talking to myself.
It's hard to sink into the Spirit when you can't hear It whispering in your ear or feel It tapping on your shoulder in the first place.
And it's always whispering, always tapping.
Our faith journeys proceed at an uneven pace, don't they? Sometimes we enthusiastically surge ahead in our faith. Sometimes we limp along or get stuck. Sometimes we fall backward. Sometimes we make progress without even realizing it.
At some point during the past eight years, I stopped worrying about my to-do lists on Sunday morning. The notes on my bulletin now feel like they are tapped in Morse code on my shoulder by the Spirit. Oh, that mother has surgery scheduled, so call to see if the family needs meals from the church's meal ministry. Write down that prayer request for the baby with Down syndrome who is having surgery on her heart. Gee, you need to remember that verse of the hymn or that turn of phrase from Pastor Suzanne or that prayer. Write it down so you don't forget.
There are no more grocery lists on my bulletin on Sunday morning. That's why I sank into the Spirit last Sunday. I paid attention to the moment. And it was good.
My faith journey in many ways still feels like it's in its late adolescence. I have lots of energy and enthusiasm for the work I feel called to in the world, a youthful vigor at odds with my gray hair. But there is still lots of maturing to do. Although I pray at least several times a day and try to spend time listening to God (not just giving Him a to-do list, please, if it's Your will), my mind still wanders far too often, indicating a need for focus and attention there. My friend Lally inspires me on that score.
I also still need the discipline of structured classes to stick to studying my Bible as I want. My mother and uncle Darius are my examples for that, but in the meantime, I'm signing up for our church's Tuesday morning Bible study for the fourth year in a row. I can't wait for it to start on the 28th!
Sinking into the Spirit last Sunday reminded me of how far I have come in my faith journey, and how far I have to go. It also reminded me that I'm not alone. Not ever. Not even for an instant.
The Spirit is there, helping, guiding, lifting me up, pulling me in, comforting me, challenging me.
Thanks be to God.
Please share your own reflections on sinking into the Spirit. How are you aware of the Spirit moving in your life? What can you do to pay attention to it more?