Lately, I’ve been praying to the Holy Spirit. As a teen I was always scared of the Holy Spirit. Probably because both “Holy” and “Spirit” are scary words. Whenever someone was fried in the Old Testament, like some massive electric shock that left them dead, it was because of this “Holiness”. That poor fellow touched the ark of the covenant, and he dropped dead, because the spirit of the holy God was within. Same for the mountain, when God descended to teach man his holy laws. And in the New Testament, Annanias and Saphira drop dead over a white lie, because they had “lied to the Holy Spirit.” And in the Gospels, it says that at the end of the world every blasphemy and every sin will be forgiven mankind, except “blasphemy against the Holy Spirit”, whatever that means.
And Christ has a face. He bled, he cried for me. God the Father is a tad more scary, but even he is Daddy-God, Abba-father.
But what of this faceless Holy Spirit? We show dove symbols and fire symbols, but any fuzzy feelings of pretty 1970s symbolism to decorate the church banners quickly freezes when one starts thinking of fried folks and blasphemies and unforgivable sins.
God’s unrelenting electric current is how I used to think of the Holy Spirit, and it frightened me.
They (those arguing bishops sixteen centuries ago) said he was a Person too. The Holy Spirit, a person. That means I can talk to him, person-to-person.
So I started praying to him, personally. But it’s weird, it’s not like I’m praying to an icon, or some fuzzy picture in my head of Jim Caviezel, or to the top corner of my room, as I kneel by my bed. This is different. It is like I find myself praying to God…inside of me. Somewhere in the ribcage, between the heart and the lungs. God “nearer to me than my own breath.” He’s in there.
God within me. No, I don’t mean I’m melded to him, or mixed up with him. It’s just like he’s there, so close. Matter-of-fact like, actually. The only thing like it is when you are holding a napping newborn on your chest, feeling their little breaths as their ribcage expands and contracts at twice the rate as your own. And you feel how super fragile and vulnerable they are. And then you realize this little 8 pounds of neediness has made you even more vulnerable. A warm melting you feel, somewhere behind and to the left of your sternum. And you sit there, and the newborn sleeps. You are just being. Being together.
That is how it is with the Holy Spirit. He just sits there within us. I ask him to clean me from my sins, more and more come to mind–especially my ego’s pettiness, resentment against others, desire to use other people as things for my own thrills, and my own mix of self-obsession and self-contempt. All of it, unholy. All of it, I ask him to take out of me, again and again, as a gardener pulls up weeds. And take away my many and diseased loves, and replace it with his love. Ask him to love others through me, with the love that is real. I don’t have to make excuses, or explain my desires and insecurities. He knows. He is in my breath.
Even if you aren’t sure about this whole Christianity or Trinity stuff, or aren’t a theist, I still recommend trying this. It helped me. It is startling, and it gives you love for others that you didn’t know you ever had. Including for yourself. It is centering, it is calming. Please try it.