The Holy Longing (A Search for A Christian Spirituality) by Ronald Rolheiser has become one of the most helpful and thought-provoking books I have read so far in my spiritual journey. One chapter in particular, “A Spirituality of the Paschal Mystery,” seems fitting to share with you as we celebrate Pentecost this weekend.
All of us experience “deaths” in our lives before we experience actual bodily death. Throughout our life our relationships, jobs, dreams, and physical bodies change over time or fall short of what we hoped or expected. Coming to terms with these disillusionments can leave us feeling disappointed, frustrated, restless, incomplete, and bitter. How do we experience the peace of Christ and the renewal of the Holy Spirit amidst this constant struggle?
Rolheiser approaches our spiritual struggles within the framework of the events of the paschal mystery: Good Friday (naming your deaths), Easter Sunday (reception of new life), The Forty Days (time to readjust to the new life and to grieve the old), Ascension (letting go of the old life and letting it bless you, refusal to cling), and Pentecost (the reception of the new spirit for the new life that one is already living).
I’d like to share one example of my own experience with this. About 5 years ago my parents surprised me with the news they were moving from Iowa to Florida permanently. This was a shock, and very emotionally difficult for me to deal with. Having nostalgic memories of the joys of living in close proximity to all my grandparents, I had certain expectations and hopes of what my children would experience with my parents. So this was a “death” of my dream. I can either choose to cling to this disappointment, let it grow into bitterness and harm my relationship with my parents, or I can let it go, readjust, and be open to the life that is happening now. Being open allows me to receive a new spirit for this “new life,” a spirit that will help me to forgive and to embrace the joy of seeing my children and parents together, even if it’s not as frequently as I had hoped. Another kind of new life I hadn’t anticipated, but have cherished, is witnessing the relationships that have developed between my children and other adults who have become like grandparents to them. Though the situation with my parents can still be difficult at times, processing it with the paschal mystery as my guide has left my soul more peaceful.
What disappointments do you cling to? How is that affecting your spirit? What new life is in front of you, waiting for you? My hope is that you all may experience the blessing of a “Pentecost” and the peace of Christ in your own journey.
Coordinator of Liturgy and Music