Weekly Challenge: Doves Tales + Fire Safety
As many of you know... I have a dove problem. And by problem, I mean a significant attachment to the doves that frequent my patio. I may or may not have cancelled cable because it is much more interesting to watch what is happening on my patio than on live television. Two years ago, shortly after having resurrected my instagram--coincidence? I don't think so--two doves moved into my bougainvillea hanging basket.
Did I mention they moved in ON PENTECOST? It was just a little too much for my theology nerd heart to handle.
The doves (promptly named Dona Nobis + Pacem) set out to build their sloppy nest and start a dove family. Doves are notoriously lazy when comes to nest building... hence the choice of the premade basket-nest with a beautiful and ready-made floral/thorny fence of protection. I documented their growing family... between May and November they would have 7 baby birds over the course of 4 broods (Filius, Regina, Caeli, Teresa, Calcutta, Jose Sanchez, Avila).
Watching the doves brought a peace, serenity, and simplicity to my life--a peace, serenity, and simplicity that it was very much lacking. Watching the couple make a home, sit on the eggs in shifts, frequent the bird bath for a spa day, or walk along my fence during a romantic sunset date night, I was captivated. How could something so beautiful also be so delicious in a gumbo?
The doves brought an element of contemplation to my life. Sitting down with my coffee and staring out instead of staring at a screen, staring out instead of getting caught up with all of the stuff within, staring out and contemplating the beauty of creation, the intricacies of carrying forth life, propagating a species, and all that can and will go wrong. I thought about the dove. What a symbol! What a sign!
How fitting for the Holy Spirit to be imaged by the dove. What a subtle creature--so easily ignored... so persistent in its desire to bring life, so focused, yet so unpredictable. The doves may have been returning to my patio for the four years prior; perhaps I had not had the eyes to see, or the ears to hear. It was only because I was quiet enough that day in May... still enough... that I recognized this new life moving right on the other side of my window.
Pentecost marks the end of the Easter season, but should really mark the beginning of an adventure with the Holy Spirit. As I watch this new generation of doves snack on bird seed, I've been thinking about how little attention I pay to the Holy Spirit. I dusted off my old copy of Divine Intimacy: Meditations on the Interior Life for Every Day of the Liturgical Year by Father Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, O.C.D. and stumbled upon a treasury of reflections on the Holy Spirit. [Fittingly, I have read this section before--which proves my most consistent and robust prayer times have been in May when everything finally stops... the craziness of the school year, the deadlines, everything. NOTE TO SELF: Treat every month like May!]
This week, I challenge you (and myself) to really reflect on what it means to both Recognize and Listen to the promptings of the Holy Spirit.
Often I've ignored the Holy Spirit... taken Him for granted. This crime is easy to commit because we juggle so many devotional practices. We worry: how long has it been since I actually finished a rosary? Oh no, is it First Friday again?! I'll have to add that to my next examen. Where is that list of steps in how to do an examen? ARGH I missed the beginning of that novena, too!? Don't worry Mary, I will consecrate myself next year. The Holy who? This third person of the Trinity becomes one more reason for us to facepalm our way through the spiritual life.
On the other hand, if I'm honest, I find the Holy Spirit easy to ignore not because of the meekness of a dove... but my fear of fire. Let's be real--engaging with the Holy Spirit allows 3000 to be converted on that first day. The Holy Spirit gives you the courage to drop your nets, turn your life upside down, and relinquish your will. I kind of like my will. And fire sounds scary. So perhaps we forget or perhaps we're just afraid--either way we're missing out on the greatest gift. The gift Jesus particularly promised us. The Holy Spirit is here so that we have the confidence and the knowledge that we are never alone. We are never abandoned. And we have nothing to fear... but no no no, please let me keep my own will [Facepalm!]
The words of St. Mary Magdalen dei Pazzi invite us to rethink our relationship with the Holy Spirit... He's not one more item to check off of our spiritual inventory, a saint to pay lip service to, He is the great animator of it all... the mover... the shaker... the original candlestick maker.
Take the following words to prayer each day this week + create a space for the Holy Spirit to move in.
O Holy Spirit, divine Guest of our souls, You are the noblest and most worthy of all guests!
With the agility of Your goodness and love for us, You fly rapidly to all souls who are disposed to receive You.
And who can tell the wonderful effects produced by You when You are welcomed?
You speak, but without noise of words, and Your sublime silence is heard everywhere.
You are always motionless, yet always in movement, and in Your mobile immobility, You communicate Yourself to all.
You are always at rest, yet ever working; and in Your rest You perform the greatest, worthiest, and most admirable works.
You are always moving, but You never change Your place.
You penetrate, strengthen, and preserve all.
Your immense, penetrating omniscience knows all, understands all, penetrates all.
Without listening to anything, You hear the least word spoken in the most secret recesses of hearts.
O Holy Spirit, You stay everywhere unless You are driven out, because You communicate Yourself to everyone, except to sinners who do not want to rise from the mire of their sins; in them You can find no place to rest, nor can You endure the evil emanating from a heart which obstinately persists in wrongdoing. But You remain in the creatures who, by their purity, make themselves receptive to Your gifts. And You rest in me by communication, operation, wisdom, power, liberality, benignity, charity, love, purity; in short, by Your very goodness. Diffusing these graces in Your creature, You Yourself prepare him suitably to receive you.
--St. Mary Magdalen dei Pazzi
Pentecost is not the end of a season, it's the beginning of a Life in the Spirit. A Renewal. A bougainvillea basket that we can all bring our messy, lazy, nest-building selves to and start over.
Enough with the Fire Safety,