Seasons remind us that life is movement, a process. It is often a process which takes place whether we are aware of it or not. And though it is usually good to become more conscious of where our lives are going, Pentecost reminds us that sometimes it is not. The movement of the Spirit is unpredictable and the more conscious we are of life’s direction, the more we may be tempted to control and hinder that movement.
It may come as a surprise to discover that John the Baptist, in introducing Jesus as the “lamb of God,” confessed he “…did not realize who he was. But that he may be known to Israel, for this reason have I come baptizing with water” (Jn. 1, 29-31). He did a prophetic thing without realizing what he was doing! This may be true in our own experience. We live our lives and do our work the best we can. It may seem hum-drum at times but we do try to operate out of inner conviction. Then suddenly one day, we realize that what we said or did was more than we were aware of at the time. Someone lets us know how much a very insignificant action or remark we made meant to them in his or her life. It also happens when we try to accept the harder things of life with some degree of grace. Later we discover an unfortunate incident turns out, in the long run, to be a blessing in disguise. Again, the Spirit’s will comes into play without our knowing it.
The evolutionary process continues both in nature and in grace. And just as we find a new species originating from very unlikely sub-species in the order of nature, so a point of divergence in our relationships with God or others may be occasioned by similarly unlikely circumstances. From then on the quality of our life is changed, is set on a different course. Let us rejoice when we have let the Spirit do this new thing, that is, to come up with a different species, so to speak. And though a new species may appear to be a kind of freak at first, is it not true that there is more to life than meets the eye?
—Mary E. Penrose, OSB
Sister Mary E. Penrose is a Sister of St. Scholastica Monastery in Duluth, Minnesota. She edits readings for the liturgical Hours and writes reflections for the Community. And she is a tutor for the African Sisters attending The College of St. Scholastica. She was editor of a journal, Spirit & Life, for 18 years.