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The Spirit Helps Us in Our Weakness

Karl Stevens Little Flowers of Wisdom

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Having just written in the previous post that I don’t really know anything about the Holy Spirit, I now have to pause and admit that I do know something. I know Paul’s famous words about the spirit. I know that it helps us in our weakness, because we don’t know how to pray as we ought, but it intercedes with sighs too deep for words. In other words, it can bear our weight, hold our fears for us, articulate our desires when words fail us.

And, as always, since I started thinking about the Holy Spirit I find references to it everywhere. Take, for instance, this quote from Richard Rohr, which I read yesterday:

The Holy Spirit is that aspect of God that works largely from within and “secretly,” at “the deepest levels of our desiring,” as so many of the mystics have said. That’s why the mystical tradition could only resort to subtle metaphors like wind, fire, descending doves, and flowing water to describe the Spirit. More than anything else, the Spirit keeps us connected and safely inside an already existing flow, if we but allow it. We never “create” or earn the Spirit; we discover this inner abiding as we learn to draw upon our deepest inner life…Home is another word for the Spirit that we are, our True Self in God. The self-same moment that we find God in ourselves, we also find ourselves inside God, and this is the full homecoming, according to Teresa of Avila. (1)

That helpful, sighing spirit is, in effect, us, ‘Our True Self in God,’ at least according to Rohr. It feels vainglorious somehow. I’m uncomfortable with equating myself with the Trinity, even my best and truest self. But I suppose that he means that my True Self is only a fragment of the spirit, and that everybody else has a fragment, too. Or maybe fragment is the wrong word, maybe it’s like a fractal, where the smallest part contains all of the whole. Regardless, the realization that everyone has this True Self, this fractal spirit, means that no one person can claim any kind of spiritual supremacy over any other person. If I participate in the Trinity, so do you, and we do so equally.

It’s comforting to think that our True Self in God is active and working on our behalf, even when the rest of us seems dead as a stone, mute with grief and confusion, unable to think beyond the bare exigencies of existence. I think that’s why I always want to give Paul’s words to people who are suffering. As a reminder that they have a true home inside of them, and that it’s as mute as they are, but still acting, still sighing. Participating in their grief but also still reaching out from it to the rest of the Trinity, and to the fractal spirit in other people.

 

(1)Rohr, Richard (2011-02-11). Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life (p. 90). Wiley. Kindle Edition.



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