The Holy Spirit is not a subject on which we spend much time. We are much happier staying on the imposed masculinity and solidity of Jesus and God. The Holy Spirit has often been associated with the feminine – with wind and moving air. Jesus breathes the Holy Spirit onto the disciples.
In a few days, the community of the cathedral will gather and breathe on each other. There are so many who want to be part of this event that we have had to fit it tightly into Dagwell Hall and use small tables. We will be breathing each other’s breath.
Interestingly, the root word of “fool” or “foolish” is french, from an ancient Sanskrit word, and is associated with the bellows of a blacksmith shop. Fools breathe out air too, but from a different center. This breathing, it seems, spiritually, is about breathing air out. And yet it has two forms. One is authentic and from God. The other is fake and from a hot wind-bag of old leather.
Discerning the difference in life is vitally important to our lives, our family and our church.
This image is of Pyrite. This rather extended form of the rock is from Spain where the cubes of iron-based stone crystalize into large, individual crystals emerging from tan, dull rock. In Colorado, Pyrite is in smaller cubes and so looks, at first glance, like gold in sand. Pyrite is what we, in Colorado call “fool’s gold.” It ruined many lives precisely because it looks, at first glance, so real, so good, so tempting.
Being honest about who I am and what I do seems to be a matter of the Holy Spirit. Socially we also call it emotional intelligence and even social intelligence. What is wonderful about the church and about society is that we humans have the very real capacity to detect the difference between what is true and what is a lie – most days.
What is hard about the church and what is hard about society is that what looks true is sometimes not – is fool’s gold – is fake.
The great work of being human and of being the church is not getting church “right” (though that is often an effective form of self-anethsetizing.) The great work of the church is friendship.
The primary, initial act of friendship is the decision – may I trust this person? Is this person authentic? Does this person know themselves enough not to be dangerous to me now or down the road? Science tells us that we know truth in the blink of an eye. (http://gladwell.com/blink/)
The harder thing is being friends with ourselves. Having such self-compassion and self-kindness to be able to see what we are doing and see what we are saying and know what is emerging out of our basic goodness versus what is emerging out of fear, discomfort, longing, desire, regret, frustration, repression, manipulation and fake charm.
Friendship with ourselves means knowing ourselves so that our breath is fresh from the Holy Spirit and not hot and smokey from the fires of a blacksmith’s bellows. It is not surprising to me that our planet has chosen stone-based fire as the universal image of hell in most of religious tradition.
When we are so centered in our prayer-life and our life-choices that we are not acting out nor repressing, then friendship can bloom and relationships can emerge.
As we move forward in our lives, in our churches, in our society; the questions emerge out of the earth – out of fool’s gold and out of 24 carat gold. In the end, as we gather to lend each other courage, the question is not what is “good” and “bad”, the question is simply what is “true”?
What is hard is not knowing what is true. What is hard is speaking it out loud. In the end, I would much rather find myself in the cool, fresh breezes of the Holy Spirit than caught in the false, smoky winds of a blacksmith’s bellows. The one will blow me into God, the other into fire and rock.