"The Holy Spirit comes to wake us up," Bishop Andy Doyle, says this morning in church. We are celebrating Pentecost Sunday, the arrival of the Holy Spirit, our Advocate.
He says this sentence after talking about the movie, The Matrix. Neo makes the choice to take the red pill, committing himself to experience life for what it truly entails, forsaking the ignorant bliss of his current worldview. Just as the red pill opened his senses to a new reality, so can the Holy Spirit do this for us, he explains.
Without the Holy Spirit, we come to grow comfortable in our brick-walled selves, happy to display our symmetrically stacked lives to all whom we may encounter. We put forth a vision of what we think will enable us to be loved and welcomed, treasured and revered. And as we work hard to conceal that which is less than perfect, we acknowledge that many fellow human beings are constructing their own facades at the same time. We don't wish to mar their own optical illusions, just as we don't want our own mysteries to be revealed.
"I'm pretty good at doing church. But I'm pretty bad at being church," he says later on in his sermon. I immediately start comparing myself to him. If he struggles so much with this, how much more would I? But the thought, I immediately dismiss because this is part what he is speaking about -- the comparisons to each other that we have no business making-- that keep us from really loving and serving each other.
It easy to plaster on the smile. It's easy to say that perhaps "now is not the appropriate time" to tell someone what is really going on, how we are really hurting or struggling or drowning. But when we choose to shut the door, turn out the lights, and draw up the covers to our ears, we not only miss out on the opportunity for healing and freedom and friendship, but we deny one another the opportunity to be the church to us. We take away their opportunity to practice the works and the heart of Christ.
I want to stop asking people the polite "How are you?" when I am unwilling to take the time to listen to an answer that is more than "fine" or "good," or "keepin' on, keepin' on." And I want to get out of my own headspace so that I am always willing to stop and address the needs of someone, instead of rushing to the next something. I don't want to think twice about admitting my failures and my defeats and my very own struggles because it might taint this image I try to project and protect. I want to practice, intentionally, authentic empathy and love and courage.
And I want to do this by living only on the breath of the Holy Spirit and Her promptings. I want to be a vessel, allowing Her words to cascade out of my mouth like a gentle waterfall, Her breath to waft into my heart and out of my mouth.
This cannot be done if I have surrounded myself within my four brick walls. The breath will never make it to the other side.
Linking with Michelle.