Happy Pentecost! I’ll admit that I’m not quite ready to give up all of the Easter alleluias, but at least I’ll get to keep them in the Daily Office until next Lent. I was thinking yesterday about the image at the beginning of Genesis of the Holy Spirit sweeping – or in some translations, brooding – over the face of the waters. I have always loved to describe this as the wind dancing over the water, just as the sunlight dances over the water. I don’t have anything very profound to say about this, but it reminded me of a poem I’d written years ago, and made me think about the way it ends in a new way.
Made in the Image of God
January 23, 1998
The little girl stands
on the bridge
over the calm, clear lake.
Her pigtails bouncing,
she tiptoes to reach the rail
and peeks over to see
her reflection in the water.
She giggles to see the moon
right there, over her shoulder,
and the stars
dancing about her head like a sparkly tiara,
and as she giggles
she shakes her head,
wiggling the curly pigtails
with their pink ribbons
to make the stars twinkle and dance
in her hair.
The breeze kisses her cheeks
then dips to kiss the little girl
reflected in the water
with the wiggling pigtails
and the twinkling stars.
A ripple starts, and then another.
The girl on the bridge stands still
to watch the image in the water
as it jiggles and moves.
The girl bites her lip, pouting,
Because now the girl in the water
doesn’t look like her any more.
Her tiptoes are tiring,
so she bounces up and down,
watching the distorted reflection
move back and forth on the rippling water.
Another breeze whispers at her ear
and caresses the water,
with ripples and jiggles anew.
The girl stands on the bridge,
by the image she created in the water
and by how much it has changed
in just a few moments
from just the merest kiss
of the breeze.
That part there, about the breeze kissing the water… When I wrote this, I was trying to show that being made in the image of the Divine doesn’t mean that we are perfect reflections of God. Far from it! But our surroundings change us, distort us, shape us, make us who we are. And yesterday, on Pentecost, remembering the Holy Spirit sweeping over the waters at creation – I thought, this breeze that is kissing the water and making ripples in the little girl’s reflection – this is the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit makes her a unique creation, an image of God that is different from any other image in the world.
Once, when asked how every person can be unique when we’re all made in the image of God, I offered the picture of a disco ball, covered with mirrors at every angle. The room surrounding it is the same, but each mirror shows a different image of the room, just as each of us shows a slightly different image of God.
So this week (since I missed blogging on the day of Pentecost itself), I hope that you will feel the kiss of the breeze of the Holy Spirit on you, that you will know that you are a unique and wonderful being, made in the image of God. I wish for you deep confidence and certainty that God the Holy Spirit is at work in your life, shaping you and making you unique, just as God the Father and Mother is holding you in God’s hands, and Jesus the Son is tenderly watching over you and protecting you. And next Sunday, when we celebrate the Trinity, may you feel loved, comforted, and known by God in all God’s aspects.