Theme: Indwelling Spirit
By Fr. Richard Rohr, OFM
God for us, we call you Father.
God alongside us, we call you Jesus.
God within us, we call you Holy Spirit.
You are the eternal mystery that enables, enfolds, and enlivens all things,
Even us and even me.
Every name falls short of your goodness and greatness.
We can only see who you are in what is.
We ask for such perfect seeing—
As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be. Amen.
In the Divine Spirit—God within us, already promised, often with different words, by the Hebrew prophets, as in Jeremiah 31:31-34 and Isaiah 11:2—God takes on an indwelling character. The unnamable I AM becomes writ large on our hearts, revealing the “down and in” divine characteristic present since the beginning of time. Let’s call the Holy Spirit Implanted Hope.
Theologian Jack Levison points out that there are many meanings for the Hebrew word ruach and the Greek pneuma: “The original Hebrew and Greek words for ‘spirit’ were used to convey concepts as diverse as a breath, a breeze, a powerful gale, an angel, a demon, the heart and soul of a human being, and the divine presence itself.” For me, what seems most significant is that Spirit is the divine indwelling in creation. As God promises Ezekiel, “I will put my spirit within you, and you shall live.” (See Ezekiel 37:9-14.)
Without God as Holy Spirit, there’s no inner momentum, élan vital, or aliveness to heal our wounds. When the Spirit is alive in people, they wake up from their mechanical thinking and enter the realm of co-creative power. As in Ezekiel’s vision, the water flows from ankles to knees to waist to neck as the New Earth is hydrated. (See Ezekiel 47:1-12.) Like Pinocchio, we move from wooden to real. We transform from hurt people hurting other people to wounded healers healing others. Not just as individuals but as shapers of history that keeps moving forward through the Spirit’s power.
The Indwelling Spirit is this ability of humanity to keep going, to keep recovering from its wounds, to keep hoping. One thing we love so much about young children is their indomitable hope, curiosity, and desire to grow. They fall down, and soon they’re all grins again. Another generation is going to try again to live life to the fullest. But all too often, by the time they’re sixty they don’t smile so much, and we ask, “What happened between six and sixty?” I see it as loss of Spirit, because if you trust that the Holy Spirit is alive within you, you will keep on, despite every setback.