Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Three out of seven ain't bad

In the Life Profession ceremony the bishop doesn't lay hands on the person. That strikes me as odd, actually. We lay hands on each other for so many other important things: baptism, confirmation, weddings... you'd think a hit from the Holy Spirit would be par for the course. I'm not complaining, just wondering.

I say I'm not complaining for good reason. I've been hit with the Holy Spirit before... at my confirmation, when the bishop did lay hands on me. I opened my mouth to sing the closing hymn and out came a string of unpronounceable syllables. It was more than embarrassing; it was out of control. The residual effects weren't any better: six months of sleepless nights and cramped fingers as I poured forth an unending string of lyrics to religious folk songs. Like so many gifts from God, you sometimes have to really look for the blessing.

For people who thrive on roller coasters an all-expense paid trip to an amusement park would be a great gift. Spiritual roller coasters are just as exciting, unnerving, gut-wrenching and vomit-producing as the physical ones... When I was a kid my cousin would con me into going on those rides and I've done a few with my sons, but I can't stomach the sensation.

The "seven-fold" gifts of the Holy Spirit are confusing. The terminology has changed a bit from the early translations, but the content is in tact. Since we are the Community of the Holy Spirit, we take these gifts pretty seriously. Here's the run-down:

1. Wisdom: not regular wisdom, or street smarts, as in she's a wise old bird... but holy wisdom, divine light of the soul. When you have this gift you can actually see and savor God's light in everything. (I imagine auras around trees and people... that kind of thing.) I don't seem to have this gift. I would love to see auras but I don't.

2. Understanding: or another good word would be discernment. I'm pretty sure I have a smidgen of this.

3. Counsel: that would be encouragement, or spiritual tact... it helps you see Christ in each other, something we give lip service to most of the time. I know people who have this gift. They are amazing.

4. Ghostly strength: not like superman or vampires... this refers to passion and perseverance. it would be a real good quality to have as a monastic, considering the monotony of the life. I didn't get that one either.

5. Knowledge: again, not book learning, but insight... the ability to "get" the external truths. I figure I have some of this one.

6. Godliness: or piety. You can stop laughing. I know this one passed me by.

7. Holy Fear: yet another misnomer, I think. Fear in this case means awe. And I am definitely in awe in the presence of the holy.

Remember the TV show Star Trek Voyager? The Borg was called Seven-of-Nine. I could call myself "Three-of-Seven" but why limit my options? There's always the possibility I'll get some more presents along the way.

1 comment:

HeyJules said...

CJ, I'm not sure I've ever seen this list before but I love it! I think I might be 3 for 7 also and yes, #6 did seem to skip right over me, too!