Unquenchable. Eternal. God. Omnipresent. Imminent. Unseen. Mystery. Breath. Wind. More than Christ who left his teachings for us and God whose stories are told in the Bible, the Holy Spirit is the cipher of the Trinity. There is no intellect that can comprehend him, no book learning that reveals him. The Holy Spirit, described by Jesus as his gift to the disciples after his death, is only known through experience. The Holy Spirit, the “Spirit of Truth” as Jesus called him in the Gospel of John, is Christ’s voice and action in our lives. Only our experience of him reveals him to us.
Like the angel who appeared to Moses in Exodus 3 in flaming bush, the Holy Spirit transforms us in unimaginable ways, burning out the dross and the egocentric, the bad habits and the walls that we’ve built between us and God, without changing or damaging the essence of who we are. As Spirit works with us, burning off the conditioned parts of ourselves and our responses to what was traumatic in our lives, what is left is our essence; our strengths, our ability to love and to be patient and kind, to surrender, to be passionate—the person we were created to become. This process can happen as a sweeping change or a slow evolution.
We can start noticing the action of the Holy Spirit in our lives with a broad, sweeping, backward look over our lives, a spiritual autobiography, if you will, to see how the Spirit has acted to point us in the right direction, or to an encounter with the right person at the right time, or to avoid a disastrous choice. We can see the circumstances, the people or events through which the Spirit worked to changed the course of our lives. Once we understand how the Holy Spirit has operated for us in the past, we can bring our attention to the near past and to the present for signs that the Spirit is working still. The more we pay attention to the Presence of the Spirit, the more we will see of it.
To recognize that presence in the moment requires looking with persistence for resonance when our attention is directed to some subject matter or activity or a book or direction. We need to pay attention to any heightened stress that we sense in what someone is telling us or in what we are reading or are experiencing. The Holy Spirit speaks through friends and acquaintances, books, events, ideas in our minds, etc., calling us to our most fulfilling life. He is always speaking to us.
Are you listening?