Sunday, May 27, 2007

Pentecostal Thoughts on This Fine Pentecostal Afternoon

As I walked from church to the gym this morning, the rain pouring down on me, I thought of S-Boogie, whose first name we gave to her because it means wisdom in Greek and whose middle name we gave to her because it means heavenly mists in Hawaiian, reminding us that if we are full of charity, "the doctrine of the priesthood" (or, one might say, the wisdom of God) shall distill upon our souls "as the dews from heaven." I'd never thought before of how appropriate her name is for Pentecost Sunday, the day when we celebrate the Holy Spirit descending upon the church. The common metaphor for the Spirit is fire, but wouldn't wisdom descending as rain be so much more pleasant?

This made me think of Little Dude, who was born one year ago tomorrow and whose first name means fear of God in Greek and whose middle name means fearless in Hawaiian, reminding us that "God hath not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, of love, and of a sound mind."

At the gym I listened to The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle, who is one of the new agey philosophers my therapist talks about. Tolle suggests that fear, as well as most other negative emotions, comes from an unhealthy preoccupation with the mind and with time. Our mind tends to dwell on the past and future rather than the present, and this leads to sadness, grief, and regret on one hand or fear, anxiety, and stress on the other. When we recognize that our mind is doing this, we step outside of our minds and realize those thoughts are not us, and we become present awarenesses, fully conscious of the Now. When we are focused on the Now, there is no fear.

As I listened I set aside my skepticism and my questions for a moment and tried to be conscious only of the present. I watched the people around me, the gym equipment, the television screens. I looked out the window at the bushes and trees wet with rain. I tried not to think about these things, but just to observe and experience. I had no epiphany or great newfound appreciation for the world and everything in it, but I did sense some truth in Tolle's words. All clinging to the past and worrying about the future do is prevent us from enjoying the present.

I started the day feeling a little stressed about life and hoping for some kind of pentecostal experience, some wisdom from heaven, and I think this is it. Remembering that I have no reason to fear the future does not solve all my problems, but it does give me the sound mind I need to deal with them effectively.


-L- said...

Not exactly aligned with what you're saying, I watched Pleasantville tonight on TV. It reminded me of the simple pleasures of life and the importance of appreciating them. And I liked it. That's all.

EvadingOdd said...

Philosophy at the gym, eh? I can appreciate that. Thanks for these thoughts and uplifting religion.

TK said...

This reminds me of a SS lesson I taught to my 16 yr olds, several yrs ago. The manual centered on the life of Christ, but this particular lesson was about appreciating the beauty in the world. It seemed a little unusual to me, but afterward, I tried to apply it to my own life. I found that, for one thing, I could lessen, if not relieve, a migraine by concentrationg on the beauty in the world. In a way similar to what you're describing, doing this forces one to focus on the present with a positive attitude, as opposed to the concerns of the past or future, which includes fears and negativity.

Th. said...


Severe brain trauma can have a similar effect. What a funny world!

Of course, that aside, you make a very good point.

Tolkien Boy said...

This is what I call my middle place.

Just so you know.