posted in: In the Wilderness | 0

by Claire Martindale, 2020

Gabe bounced out of Sunday School
wearing the craft of the day – a strip
of paper encircling his head. Instead
of feathers he’d stuck jagged red paper cutouts
along the front with a stubby glue stick.
Tongues of fire for Pentecost Sunday.

I envied the little boy.
I wanted a paper headdress to wear,
my own tongues of fire, like the disciples,
to signify the holy touch of God’s Spirit.

It was the birth of Christ’s church, they say.
Flickering flames blown in by a violent wind
then separating to rest above the followers’ heads.
Unschooled in any but their own Galilean
dialect, Jesus’ friends began to speak
the tongue of each person in the crowd.
Over a dozen languages, Luke counted.

Like a favorite cap identifying my team,
I want something to show whom I follow,
to proclaim my own encounter
with the Holy Spirit of God.

I sat during worship that morning studying
the stained glass above the choir.
There a dove lowers its head, plunging
toward us with fiery red shards on either side.

I’ve never glimpsed flames above the heads
of other followers. Never seen the dove sitting
atop their shoulders, murmuring.
Is it because the Spirit moves like wind,
invisible to our eyes?

What I have seen is where the spirit-wind
has been, seen the marks it left,
encountered people whose lives were blown
into order by that holy zephyr.
Can I dare hope that others see
the wind-blown parts of me?

Instead of wearing paper cutouts
I’ll watch the clouds sail
and kite tails dance and trees
rustle, seeing where the God
of fire and wind stirs,
working miracles today.