Home Catechetical Corner Pentecost: Meditating on the birthday of the church and the Holy Spirit

Pentecost: Meditating on the birthday of the church and the Holy Spirit

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A scene from Pentecost is depicted in a stained-glass window at St. Therese of Lisieux Church in Montauk, N.Y. Pentecost invites us to celebrate the birthday of the church and meditate upon the Holy Spirit's role in our individual lives. (CNS photo/Gregory A. Shemitz, Long Island Catholic)

Pentecost invites us to celebrate the birthday of the church and meditate upon the Holy Spirit’s role in our individual lives.

I remember a small leap in my heart during my confirmation, as the bishop traced chrism on my forehead and said, “Be sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Since then, I’ve encountered the Holy Spirit most often in my writing life — and especially in the composition of poetry. While writing poetry, I find myself in conversation with beauty.

Below are four poems for this marvelous feast. “Waking” utilizes the shift from winter into spring to meditate upon awakening to the presence of God. “Descent” looks at Pentecost from the distance of the present, while “We Open the Doors” is an immersion, an invitation to be one of the apostles experiencing the reception of the Holy Spirit.

“Beyond Fire, Beyond Dove” is an attempt to map the Spirit’s various movements in the soul and to find the presence of this member of the Trinity in symbols beyond fire and dove.

My hope is that these poems lead you into your own conversation with the Holy Spirit.

•••

Waking

In winter, bare branches bent

like commas against the frost,

a pause, a breath withheld.

 

Almost imperceptibly comes the subtle

green, the haze of underbrush abloom

in roadside snatches of forest.

 

Then the trees turn bouquet,

pear, cherry, pink and white magnolias,

rain’s tea cups for a week

 

before the petals turn sidewalks

to cream. In the city, the fountains

begin to circulate water again.

 

The shift in season breaks over me

like a wave, shimmers my skin

in streams of silver. It’s as if I’ve emerged

 

from the middle of a fountain,

the constant flow an unsought sun,

scrubbing me of slumber.

 

Descent

In the strong winds of early April,

pear tree petals like little drops

of milk dot my forehead, my hair,

 

unexpected baptism blossoms

into wordless prayer, world

at the cusp of green.

 

What was it to press palms together

(CNS illustration; photo from Crosiers)

in that hidden room, trying to remember

how to pray, doors always locked.

 

And then stillness shattered by light,

rush of wind, fire licking the space

above your heads.

 

What spring took hold

in your inner rooms then,

what illumination?

 

Dread shed like a coat on a day

grown warm. You spoke

and the words were not your own

 

but His. In the strong winds

of early April, I pick petals

from my hair, find pearls.

 

We Open the Doors

The new air in the room

warm, brightened by fire,

brings us to our feet,

 

to the windows. We pull

the door open, pour

into the streets.

 

We speak words

like so many unknown

flowers, catch in the faces

 

of our listeners glimmers

of surprise. Suddenly

even the dust glistens

 

with life, and what we say

fills us entirely, a breath

not wholly our own.

 

We open invisible doors

in the streets, invite

strangers to a feast.

 

Words become meat

to gnaw on, honeyed wine,

a hidden fountain unsealed,

 

flowing, turning the streets

to rivers. Finally, we remove

the last stone from the mouths

 

of our hearts, begin the work

that calls us into crowds,

to knock at the doors of the world.

 

Beyond Fire, Beyond Dove

You are the give

of a ripened blueberry just plucked

from the bush, juice staining

fingers, tongue

a memory of sun.

 

You are the spark of recognition

in the eyes of Magdalene,

in the eyes of Peter, splashing

through water to gain the shore,

the unexpected stumble into joy.

 

You are the pearl fashioned

by small irritation, immense sorrow,

discovered when doors

are flung open, and empty

hands fill with another’s.

 

You are the rush of oil,

of words, the gold that mends

the broken bowl, quiet moment

when the soul as if emerging

from water meets light.

 

You are the pull

toward some unknown

good, as if the heart were a dog,

eager for uneven sidewalks,

to linger, then break into a run.

 

You are the gilding

threaded through our ordinary days,

hope in motion, turning life

into a dance with the Divine,

one we learn as we step, as we twirl.

•••

Lindsey Weishar is a poet and freelance writer from the Diocese of Peoria, Illinois.