I began my life in the Catholic Church, and she is my mother in undeniable ways. But one day my parents rushed me out in their own kind of exodus and we crossed into the land of the Spirit-filled, non-denominational church. I lived in this land for all my adolescent years and most of my adult ones, too.
In the past set of years I’ve reconnected with my mother church. I’ve also recalibrated my charismatic practice. My own experience, good and bad, has informed my thinking and doing. More and more I relish the utter mystery of the Spirit, accept those unknowns as beautiful. I might go as far as to say the mystery of the Spirit is necessary for my humanity somehow. What I don’t know, can’t know, can still be holy.
This post was originally published at Deeper Church, a part of DeeperStory.com.
Ten years ago we built a house. Correction – we contracted with a builder to construct a home for us. We watched as they poured the foundation on our selected cul du sac lot, as they framed and finished our house over several months. We couldn’t wait to get the keys.
While the exterior was under construction I spent my energies on the interior plans. My mother and I went to the home improvement store and swooned over paint chips and possibilities. My friend and I watched HGTV together and I’d call dibs on my favorite design ideas. My out of town friend got regular updates on my thoughts about kitchen necessities. Talking about the house to others came naturally. This phenomenon astounded my non-American husband.
We were just days away from moving in to the house when I learned that his parents knew nothing about any of this. “When do you plan on telling them?” “Once we have the keys and actually live there, that’s when it will be time to share the news.” I couldn’t believe my ears anymore than he could believe his.
“Why would you wait to tell them?” He told me that Burundians keep things close and quiet. There’s no need to tell the whole neighborhood your business until it’s done. It never entered his mind to tell anyone until we could celebrate the completion together.
I want to be that kind of a charismatic.
I want to live a life that, like a hot pot of golden kernels, pops with activity and Spirited presence.
But I want to keep it close and quiet.
Maybe that means I don’t invite everyone in to share words and impressions as the work unfolds. I trust people to hear from the Spirit and pray in their prayer closets, but not announce it to me. Maybe there will come some awareness of future happenings or ‘in this very moment’ sensations – but people will keep those Spirited secrets and pray them through with a holy discreetness and diligence.
Then when a season is complete and goodness has flowered, we can celebrate. Friends can share those Spirit-breathed prayers and they will come as confirmation of what God has done among us. Those prophetic words will deepen the celebration. The faithful prayers offered in silent solidarity will now heighten the connection between us. What the Spirit said and did among us will converge.
Why do I wish for this kind of charismatic care? Because too often I’ve been hurt by words that lacked wisdom and future-tellings that bore no resemblance to what actually happened. Too often I’ve been told that the Spirit was doing this amazing thing, assured of the Spirit’s speed regarding this present task, only to see none of it transpire.
I know people are well intended when they rush in to share these words with me. I’m also old enough to realize that none of us hear perfectly. But once heard I cannot unhear those words. And sometimes those words meant to help end up haunting me in the aftermath. Alongside my own disappointment loiters the now defunct prophetic word bullying me.
This is when I imagine the golden nature of silence – even silence about things of the Spirit. Because then those words silently prayed won’t hurt me. The words about God opening doors, favor easily bestowed, the miraculous happening would not linger or sting. There’d be one less thing to shake off.
I’ve been trying to recalibrate my own charismatic practice. I’ve kept my impressions about the Spirit’s movement to myself and instead allowed them to inform my prayers. When I’m aware of the Spirit’s presence I’m grateful and more mindful in the moment, but I’ve put away my bullhorn. I allow the Spirit to shape me and trust the Spirit’s capacity to form others.
When I speak of the Spirit, I do so in retrospect. I’m better at knowing where the Spirit has trod, seeing the holy wake trailing the Presence. In retrospect I can offer confirmation and share in celebration. I can also sink deeper into reverence somehow, acknowledging the One who visited and accompanied me, who helped and held me or those I love.
A year after we moved in my in-laws came for a stay. Key in hand, my husband opened the door and led them in to our completed home. When we told them we owned the house – they couldn’t believe it. They were excited and, as good Burundians, celebrated God’s blessings with us.
I’m learning the Burundian practice of keeping it close and quiet when it comes to speaking of the Spirit. I’m learning the goodness of celebrating in the afterglow and speaking of the Spirit in retrospect.