On Holy Presence
May 30, 2004
A happy Pentecost to my Christian readers! May your holiday -- celebrating, as I understand it, the day when Jesus' followers felt the Spirit descend, and in a kind of temporary antidote to the Babel phenomenon were able to speak "about God's deeds of power" (Acts 2:11) in a language everyone could understand -- bring you as much joy and sense of embodied spirituality as my holiday brought me.
Clearly Shavuot and Pentecost are cousins (not least because Pentecost is a reinterpretation of the preexisting Jewish holiday). Pentecost closes out the seven weeks of the Easter season; Shavuot closes out the seven weeks of the Counting of the Omer which began with Passover. Both holidays celebrate an outpouring of spirit from our Source into creation. They're both holidays of revelation.
The lesson I take away from Shavuot is that God's revelation of Torah -- of teaching, of a path toward holiness -- is both constant and eternal. Shavuot is significant because it reminds us to stop and mindfully receive what we've been given, but even on the days when we don't consciously think about the holiness in our world, that holiness is still there, waiting for us to wake up. And one lesson I find in Pentecost is that when God moves us, we can communicate across divisions.
Here's hoping our holidays at this season encourage both of our peoples to wake up to the beauty and meaning in the world -- and to speak transgressively in the best ways, bridging gaps between people with our words.