When the kids were little, we had not one meal without spilled milk. My husband Mike often chuckled, “Well, it’s not dinner until spilled milk!” I recall one evening when the kids were roughing around, and a full glass of milk and dinner plate flew across the room and crashed onto the floor. Shards of glass and pieces of ceramic lay all around and I had just about had it. I was furious (and they knew it) but asked the Holy Spirit for a little composure. Soon the older kids apologized and helped clean while the little ones remained quiet. Peace returned to the table.
This coming Sunday, we celebrate Pentecost when the Holy Spirit rushed upon a gathering of believers after the Ascension of Jesus. The Spirit of Jesus moves the disciples into the world. If open, the Holy Spirit moves daily as a strong driving wind blowing us into uncharted territory; a warm breeze comforting us after a difficult time; a soft whisper impelling us to offer an encouraging word; an insistent whisper urging us to justice; a deep breath ushering in order amid chaos.
I believe the Spirit is the persistent voice urging us to bend our wills to God’s will—to conform ourselves to Christ. The Spirit stirs our hearts to love—holding our tongues or speaking with tenderness when angry or irritated. The Spirit shifts our thinking about our neighbor through “chance” encounters with a homeless person or an immigrant. The Spirit steers us to witness to truth, though counter-cultural. And when we fail, the Spirit leads us to seek reconciliation and to begin anew.
Calling upon the Spirit is essential for peace in the Christian home, where sometimes, as Pope Francis quipped, “plates fly.” While plates may not fly, without bending our wills to the Spirit, foul words easily fling. Just this week “plates flew” in our household, even after I had been reflecting on the Spirit. Seriously. I had been praying about the Spirit’s desire to bend my will to His. But then my husband and I began “discussing” an important issue and words flew between us—words not of the Spirit—harmful words from our insecure, prideful selves.
I’ve been questioning: Was I not listening to the Spirit? Where was the Spirit when needed? What is the Spirit trying to teach me? I believe the Spirit was speaking, but I was not listening. The Spirit led me to apologize to Mike and to the confessional. The Spirit showed me love despite my failings. The entire incident measured my distance from conformity to Christ—to holiness.
As parents and grandparents, we name grace—the Holy Spirit—as the small still voice of God urging us to love and to forgive. We teach our children to strive for unity within the family—and the family of God—through acts of kindness and frequent apologies. We remind our children the Spirit works unceasingly on behalf of their spiritual welfare.
It’s been a rough ride writing this reflection—discovering just how resistant I am to the Spirit’s urgings of the heart. Yes, the Spirit speaks through strong winds, soft whispers, deep breaths, warm breezes, but often the Spirit strikes the heart through our failures to love and our need for reconciliation. Perhaps the mightiest “act of God” we proclaim is the heartfelt apology after a heated argument when plates flew. Now, that’s good news!
When have you felt the Spirit’s call to peace?How will you teach your child about the Spirit?
The blog on this page presents reflections on the Sunday readings through the lens of a parent/grandparent, aiding leaders of the domestic church in their vital task as “first heralds” or “first preachers” of the Good News in the home.