The comforter 560

Remember in November when I wrote:

This summer was a rough patch for me internally. I had one friend text me more than once, “I’m worried about you.” I was worried about me too. I identified “resentment” as my primary emotion. Not good people, not good.

Part of the cause was for the first time since I was four-years-old, I was no longer functioning on an academic schedule. Guess how long it’s been since I was four? Short answer: a very, long time.

For a life time, my sense of time has been rooted in a school calendar. My sense of rest has been rooted in breaks around winter and summer holidays. My sense of busy seasons with the ebbs and flows of semesters.

A primary reason for the oozing-into-my soul resentfulness was the clash between what my body and soul expected from summer time and what my current reality demands. The clash was like fingernails dragging down the chalkboard of my soul.


Welcome to Spirit Week for the SoulSome of you have joined me in reading through The Circle of Seasonsabout the church calendar, by Kimberlee Conway Ireton. A week ago in Church the pastor mentioned that this past Sunday was Pentecost and to wear red to church.

I have to admit growing up in a church that mentioned advent, but not too much of the other parts of the church calendar, sometimes I get a little confused over what Pentecost is. I know, embarrassing, but there you have it. In short, Pentecost is 50 days after Easter (Pente = five) with the believers gathered together and waiting. The Holy Spirit came and afterwards the believers went back home after what is considered the church’s birthday.

This reorienting of the soul is good for me because it it doesn’t happen without a bit of intentionality. If only I could wave a magic wand and just be different. Or wait in a room for the Spirit to SHOW UP and boom, be done with it.

That, however, is not how this is playing out for my soul. Instead, it’s a bit more like getting braces for my soul. This first year, these holidays and readings are a bit, in the best sense, like visiting the orthodontist and having an adjustment. It feels a bit awkward and unnatural, but I can tell something is happening.

Ordinary time will start next Sunday and will run until Advent (doesn’t advent seem a long way off? I haven’t even gotten to wear my summer clothes yet!). This week, however, the week of Pentecost.

Remember in junior high or high school when you’d have spirit week? Well this Holy Spirit Week for the Soul! Maybe that’s not the official church calendar vernacular, but it’s helping me to think of it in these terms. The color, as you have guessed since the pastor invited people to wear red, is red. On Sunday I did wear red and Kimberly Conway Ireton suggested lighting a red candle during meals this week. I like small, yet tangible ways to reorient my soul.

Several years ago I wrote Can you judge an author by his hair? about the book the Wild Goose Chase: Reclaim the Adventure of Pursuing God by Mark Batterson.

“Just as Aslan isn’t safe, but he’s good, the Holy Spirit isn’t tame, but he’s trustworthy. Borrowing from Celtic Christians who refer to An Geadh-Glas, the wild goose, Batterson shows how we tend to cage the Holy Spirit and need to be the kind of person who resists urges. Who hasn’t found false safety in one of these cages? Responsibility, routine, assumptions, guilt, failure, or fear? But we have been called to the wild by following The Wild Goose.”

When the Holy Spirit is only referred to “the Comforter” (for good reasons!), it can make the Spirit smaller, tamer, the least interesting part of the trinity.

This week, when I see red, I’m using it as a trigger to expand how I see the Holy Spirit, and therefore expand how I see God.

How is the readjusting going for you? What’s helping? What’s been hard?

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Leave A Comment

  1. Ruth May 17, 2016 at 6:19 am - Reply

    I came to the church year slowly, but have been at it for awhile now. It is so helpful in orienting myself in the Story and all of its emotions. At this point, I think I would be lost without it. That said, I was on staff with a congregation that decided to extend Pentecost into a season for most of the summer. They also extended Trinity Sunday into the season after Pentecost until Advent. The downside was there was no ordinary time, but it was beautiful to focus on Pentecost themes for a longer time than one Sunday.

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      Amy May 17, 2016 at 6:23 am - Reply

      I can see the beauty of an extended Pentecost . . . there are some beautiful themes! Today, in this moment, the thought of ordinary time is very enticing :). Thanks for sharing a bit of your story, I love hearing more about people’s journeys!

  2. Gayle May 17, 2016 at 10:05 am - Reply

    “The Circle of the Seasons” really is a great book, and so helpful for reorienting yourself with the turn of the church calendar. As a pastor who has felt completely overwhelmed by the schedule of our congregation many times during the last couple of years, it has been beneficial to take time out to reflect on the church seasons.
    That said, I used to be a teacher, and I very much miss the “and now for something completely different”-ness of that summer schedule. While the lives and schedules of many of the families in our congregation change, the congregation’s schedule really doesn’t change much. I think I’m going to very much appreciate taking some sabbatical time next summer!
    Thank you for your words!

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      Amy May 18, 2016 at 1:42 pm - Reply

      Hi Gayle! Given that this space is called “the messy middle,” you can guess where I might land on this :). I love both — the freedom to have series and uniqueness traits of a church while also an awareness (at times) to a larger historical story. What plans do you have for your sabbatical? :)!!

  3. Jody Collins May 18, 2016 at 11:39 am - Reply

    Amy, how ‘coincidental’ (not!) that you should mention Mark Batterson’s book–our pastor and his wife have both been talking about the Wild Goose Chase book and the power and adventure of following the Holy Spirit.
    Like you, I did not grow us with a sense of the Church Calendar Year, but I’m learning from K and you and her book more about it.
    I like the idea of being able to order my days according to that….because I’m not in school all the time anymore, either :-)
    I like the idea of Holy Spirit Week–and red is my favorite color! Yay.

    • Avatar photo
      Amy May 18, 2016 at 1:43 pm - Reply

      What?! I love those kind of overlapping — showing (how ironic!) that the Spirit is at work moving us towards the same direction. This makes me very happy Jody!!

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