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The Holy Spirit has always been kind of a tough concept for me. God the Father and God the Son, those I can wrap my brain around, but God the Spirit? Not really. Or at least, not until recently.

The other day, I was out for one of my walks. Walks break up my writing day. They give me thinking time, moving time, time away from my computer and time in the sunshine. I’ve always felt closer to God after a walk although I’ve always been a little sketchy on why.

On this particular walk, I couldn’t help but notice the wind. It wasn’t a particular cold day, especially given that it is January, but a steady wind blew. Not hard, but I couldn’t miss the feel of it on my face or the sound as it whispered through the dry leaves that clung to the oak trees.

The wind was everywhere.

On Sunday, Pastor Helen preached on the Spirit and one thing that she said stood out. In both Hebrew and in Greek, the words for spirit and wind are one in the same.

I started thinking about God the Spirit being everywhere and in everything. Isn’t that easy to conceptualize when you think of God the Spirit as the wind? Although we don’t see the wind, it circles around and over everything. It moves things. It carries things to us. It changes and shapes the world we live in.

Just like the Holy Spirit.

–SueBE

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New International Version (NIV)

8 “The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”

Our church has a new pastor.  One of the things that Pastor Helen is doing is introducing us to a lot of new  music.  We are also sharing with her what we love.

This hymn may be an oldie, but it is one of my favorites.

–SueBE

Dear Lord,

On the days
that I have troubles
feeling Your presence,
send me outside.

Help me to sense You
in the wind
that is all around me,
that simultaneously moves the clouds,
ripples the grass and
flows over and around
everything in between.

Amen

Our friend is dying. None of us talks about it. We say things like, “You look great bald! Like Jean-Luc Picard!” or “So glad your doctor is going to try to remove the tumor,” even though it’s clear that this is a last-ditch effort. Now, I can’t say what all of our spiritual beliefs are; I can only speak for myself. I believe in Heaven, that the next life is the one we’ve been hoping and praying for. So why do I — and so many of us who claim to be believers — have such a dim view of death?

Can you imagine saying to a terminally ill person, “You’re so lucky to be dying! Congratulations!” You’d be instantly ostracized, an immediate pariah. What a horrible thing to say! We want people to live. Yes, partly because we are selfish and don’t want to lose them from our lives. But also because dying is bad. Dying is the worst thing that can happen to you. It is our greatest fear.

And yet, we claim to be believers! We want to be with God forever. So where does the disconnect lie? How can we say out of one side of our mouths, “Deliver us, Oh Lord, into Your hands,” while muttering out of the other side, “I don’t want to die!”? After all, Heaven is forever. There is no death there. You just have to do it once.

Is it the unknown that frightens us, like a child in the dark who imagines the curtains have grown clawed, grasping hands? But we are people of faith. The afterlife is not supposed to be unknown to us, not if we really believe. So maybe it’s our lack of faith that’s the problem?

All I know is that no one is ready to lose our friend. Even though I feel certain that he will be going to a better place, I am sad. So, I ask you: How should a spiritual person behave in the face of death?

1 Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good;
his love endures forever.

2 Let the redeemed of the LORD tell their story—
those he redeemed from the hand of the foe,
3 those he gathered from the lands,
from east and west, from north and south.

4 Some wandered in desert wastelands,
finding no way to a city where they could settle.
5 They were hungry and thirsty,
and their lives ebbed away.
6 Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble,
and he delivered them from their distress.
7 He led them by a straight way
to a city where they could settle.
8 Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love
and his wonderful deeds for mankind,
9 for he satisfies the thirsty
and fills the hungry with good things.

10 Some sat in darkness, in utter darkness,
prisoners suffering in iron chains,
11 because they rebelled against God’s commands
and despised the plans of the Most High.
12 So he subjected them to bitter labor;
they stumbled, and there was no one to help.
13 Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble,
and he saved them from their distress.
14 He brought them out of darkness, the utter darkness,
and broke away their chains.
15 Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love
and his wonderful deeds for mankind,
16 for he breaks down gates of bronze
and cuts through bars of iron.

Today was one of those days. You know. The ones in your nightmares.

“It’s already 5 after 7.”

My husband was across the hall waking up our son, but his words cut through my sleep and yanked me out of bed. 7:05. My son’s bus comes at 7:23. I was up in a flash and didn’t even detour to the bathroom. I had eggs and toast on the table at 7:12. By 7:24 he was out the door, but no other kids were in sight. I pulled off my pajama pants, pulled on yesterday’s jeans and we flew to school.

I sat there with my forehead on the steering wheel. When a woman tapped on my car window, I about jumped out of my skin. “School starts tomorrow.”

Seriously?

When we got home, I went back to bed, but it didn’t really help. After I got up – again – I got a phone call from an elderly family member. “I called the plumber like you said. They didn’t find roots in my lateral. It was leaves.”

“Okay, but the washer drains now without water backing up in the basement?”

“Yeah, but it wasn’t roots. It was leaves.”

Got it. I was wrong.

Again.

But my biggest mistake of the day? Agonizing over the fact that I had made those earlier mistakes. Grossing over the fact that other people were judging me.

We judge when people don’t live up to our standards. Sometimes those people are us. Sometimes it is someone else. In my not-so-humble opinion, it comes about because we expect perfection.

Here’s a little hint. Only God is perfect.

And until you accept that fact, you are going to have some really trying days. Ask me how I know.

–SueBE

Heavenly Father,
On good days,
I know I’m not perfect.
On bad days,
I still expect it
from myself sometimes,
but from others much more often.

Help me embrace
the imperfection
in this world.

Help me to see
what You see–
Not the flaws
but the mirror,
Not the mistakes,
but Your Grace
reflected all around me.

Amen

Have a Mary Little Christmas

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