Birds in the Evening

Just after sunset, we still hear birds talking to one another, some gently, some burbling, some offering quiet calls across the branches of pine trees. As I walked out the driveway under the apple tree, I disturbed a robin, who chastised me gently. We could hear sounds of children playing out still, in the beautiful western light, coming low off the horizon. Long slanting fingers of light touched trees and windows tinting them red and gold. This is the warmest evening of spring so far, and no one, including the birds, is quite ready to go in for the night.

Sunday is Pentecost, and we’re in the in-between time, from Ascension to Pentecost. In the Jewish calendar, it’s the celebration of the time the Torah was given on Sinai. For us, the Spirit will come again to a room in Jerusalem, again with wind and fire, where disciples are waiting for a mystery to unfold. This week in Working Preacher, one of the commentators suggested we ask our congregation to talk with each other about where they see the Spirit at work in their lives. It’s a good idea, to open up the time for that kind of conversation. I’m not sure we’ll do that this Sunday, since our Sunday School is offering a song, and a Spirit dance. But maybe we’ll do it, soon.

In the meantime, I am also thinking about all the visions and dreams we’ve heard about this Easter, from Peter and Paul, in Acts to the visions of John of Patmos in Revelation. The Spirit still speaks to that strange region of our minds where heart, imagination, thought, sensation, perception, all move together, beauty and wonder bubbling from the unconscious in dreams and songs, poems, and story. The Holy Spirit moves in us as water, wind, fire, whisper, searching our minds and the mind of God, or so Paul writes in Romans 8. The Spirit comes as Companion, Teacher, Advocate, listening and speaking in and through us, in as many languages as we can speak, a wild chorus of voices. Babel reversed, we understand each other. What a promise, that even if I can’t understand you, or you me, we can pray for the gift of wisdom, for help, for interpretation, for patience, for gentleness. Our foundation as church is in Christ, and the Holy Spirit makes the beloved community possible. The Holy Spirit figured out connection long before iPhones and Facebook.

But right now, outside the windows, the birds are quieting, the neighborhood voices lessen, as children go into their homes. The sky darkens, and brightens with starlight, apple blossoms heavy with the shadows of nightfall. The robin settles in her nest. And this pastor will let go of the day, and all that was done or not done, into the sweet darkness, and into the promise of God’s abiding mercy. The Spirit hovers over, now, with quiet wings.

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