Until I was 48 years old, I lived in my head and hands—rational, down-to-earth, a cradle Roman Catholic who put aside the mystical element of our faith tradition, not so much in disbelief as out of practicality. It was a Grandfather clock in the corner of a room, impressive but unnecessary.
Then one day I had a chance encounter with a friend whose life had taken a 180 degree turn toward love and happiness even as he had just been diagnosed with a soon-to-be fatal heart condition. Afterward, I found myself praying for this man, trying at the same time to understand his extreme open-heartedness. I prayed for this to happen to me, without even having a clear idea what it was I was asking for.
Suddenly, I was engulfed in a cloud, a place, an atmosphere of such pure LOVE, for lack of the proper word, that it transcended anything I had ever imagined. It was PERSONAL. I was loved so completely and unconditionally, it filled every thought, feeling, sensation, movement of my being. I knew this was God, and why God could not have a name, because a small thing like a name could never refer to this immensity of love.
Along with this experience of limitless and pure love came a feeling of horror at the realization of my failures in loving, my personal sins, all of which came down to holding back love due to every single person, all of whom were also God. The word, sin, seemed too small, too minuscule for the devastation and destruction my failures in loving wreaked on other people, and in some way, on God, who continued to love me with this white-hot passionate love.
That night I knew I was changed forever, and I knew I needed to practice loving everyone in every way, at all times. I knew that I could not see anyone else’s sin because my own simply blocked it out, but I could recognize its similarity to my own, and in loving others, also love myself.
This was the Spirit of Love, and I somehow had finally received it, like the Apostles at Pentecost. It is entirely right that I am now a parishioner of Holy Spirit, an ANCC parish.
Holy Spirit ANCC (Montandon, PA)