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.
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.
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
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,
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
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.