Pentecost

Our Spirituality
When asked if we’re part of a church, many of us are quick to say, “I’m not religious, I’m spiritual.” We don’t want to be connected to any particular church or religious group, but we don’t want to throw out God altogether. Instinctively, we know there is more to life and to us than we can see and touch. Scientists have not been able to explain everything, so we talk about a greater power, a life force, and… spirituality.
Last Sunday, the Christian church celebrated Pentecost. Now there’s a church word. It refers to an event in the Bible that occurred fifty days after Jesus’ resurrection. The story has all the elements of a Stephen Spielberg movie, with tongues of fire dancing on people’s heads and strange languages spilling forth from the mouths of uneducated people. The essence of the story is that God’s Spirit came to a terrified group of Jesus’ followers who were hiding in a locked room in Jerusalem. Empowered by the Holy Spirit, they ran out into the streets yelling about God’s love that came in Jesus to teach us how to live. “…a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken.  Utterly amazed, they asked: “Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans?  Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language?” (Acts 2: 6-8)
Jesus was a man of deep spirituality. In fact, he declared that it is the Spirit of the law, not the letter of the law that we are to follow. That same Holy Spirit is given by God to all people. We aren’t born religious. Religious teaching reflects our human understanding of God. Jesus spoke out against the religiosity of the Pharisees.
Each year, as we celebrate Pentecost, Christians are reminded that we have been equipped by God’s Spirit. God calls us to nurture that Holy Spirit, so it will burst into flames of unconditional love for all of God’s beautiful world. Pentecost reminds us that our Christian religion gives us a framework for God’s message of love. Our religion supports us with teaching and companionship as we answer God’s call. For us, God’s message came as Jesus, God’s gift to the world.

My Flight Home

A Day Filled With Angels.
Today I left Tucson after six weeks of caring for my Mom who has cancer. I dragged myself onto the full plane this morning, exhausted after six weeks of little sleep. Emotionally depleted, I wanted desperately to go home, and desperately to stay. I didn’t want to give up the privilege of caring for Mom, yet I knew it was time to share with my aunts. I worried that the next time I came would be for her funeral.
I stepped over two absolute strangers, and dropped into my seat for the first leg of my day long journey. Never doubt that God will give us, who and what we need. Those two strangers, Sherrie and Dick were wonderful. Starting with identifying our destinations, the three of chatted about our lives. In three and a half hours we built relationships. Some people would say, that I just happened to sit beside two outgoing people. It was just a coincidence that Sherrie was a woman of faith, and Dick a man of ideas and questions.
I believe, our meeting was a God-incident. I was blessed by God with exactly what I needed today. We talked of our past and our future. I received affirmation and peace. As the plane landed in Atlanta, Sherrie said she would email me about her trip to Milan. Dick asked, “What plane are you flying to New York?” It turned out that we were once again on the same plane. We had only forty minutes to our next flight. “We may have to go to a different terminal,” Dick said. “I’ll help you figure it out.” And he did. We caught the shuttle train, and were at our gate with nearly 30 minutes to spare.
            What had felt like climbing Mount Everest when I got up with Mom and Aunt Shirley at 3:45 a.m., had been transformed into joy. And it didn’t end with that first leg of the journey. On the second plane, I overheard the stewardess telling a mother and young boy that she would try to find them two seats together. This time the seat beside me was empty so I volunteered to be moved. The stewardess found me a place beside a pilot, commuting to work in New York. In the midst of our conversation, he described the La Guardia Airport in New York so that I was able to find my way easily to a second terminal and my third plane of the day. The other passenger in that seat was a woman my age, whose mother had died within the last year. Once again God had given me the people I needed to find joy and peace.
            On the final leg of the journey, my fellow passenger was a young mother who as the CEO of a large investment firm, was flying to Buffalo to welcome a new company into their organization. As she talked about her family and the struggle that comes with being a working professional as well as a mother, I listened and truly cared. This time, I felt not only cared for by God, but also that I had a purpose in being there for her. In addition, she read and loved my book, “A Place Called Home” and bought a copy as well. My trip home has been amazing.
            Jesus said, “I will be with you always.” Today was not the first time, nor will it be the last time, that God carries me through a tough time. I could easily have buried myself in my computer and ignored all five of those wonderful people. I certainly had every reason to withdraw from the world to lick my wounds and sleep, but I didn’t.  I give thanks to God for a life time of expecting God’s presence. I believe that expectation opened me to receive God’s love and care today.