In the Biblical languages. ‘breath’, ‘Spirit’ and ‘wind’ are the same word.
God breathes into the man of mud and he becomes a living breath (Genesis 2:7). Or you can read it: At creation, God breathes his Spirit into a human being, and he became a living spirit.
Not just human beings, but every living thing.
Psalm 104 paints a spectacular picture of all of the Lord’s ‘manifold works’: the heavens ‘stretched out like a tent-cloth’ (v.3), ‘the earth on its foundations’ (v. 6), the sea and the mountains (vv. 7 and 9), wild and domestic animals (v. 12), the birds (v. 13), and the water and food to provide for them all. Human beings have a place to work (v.25).
God’s world is a supremely fertile and attractive universe. And it all depends on God breathing God’s Spirit:
When you take away their breath, they die and return to their dust. When you send forth your spirit they are created. (Psalm 104:29b-30).
So on the first Pentecost, God was doing both a new thing and repeating an old thing. God was breathing His Spirit into human beings and all creation, and giving them new life.
But there’s more. The first human being was an individual, Adam. At Pentecost, communities spring to life, not just as individuals; a community of disciples able to pass on the word of Jesus – the first Church members. An even larger community of listeners is brought into being. Its separate components are listed:
“Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs…’ (Acts 2:9-11)
In other words, the whole known world is gathered into a community. They are gathered by hearing the same language: the very opposite of the scattering into mutually incomprehensible language groups at the tower of Babel (Genesis 11:1-9). Community happens where we talk to each other and understand each other.
The Spirit still breathes into our lives, gathering us into communities. During these strange days of pandemic, for example, members of the St Mary’s community in Busselton have continued the enormous task of providing meals three days a week for those who need them. As they work together, Spirit is breathed into the workers to gather them closer to each other, and the people who come to the Family Centre are also held in community.
‘God is faithful’ (I Corinthians 1:9), so we can expect God’s breath to breathe into us again and again, bringing us new life and gathering us into godly communities. This is the promise of Pentecost.
Jodie How is a fellow-writer in our Busselton-based writing group, Just Write. Jodie blogs at Motions and Musings and has tagged me to blog about my writing. I will then tag a couple of others to carry on the assignment!
What am I working on at the moment?
As usual, I am working on several pieces. I have just drafted a feature article on Australian musician Dorothea Angus. Dorothea was the Head of Music at Perth College for 32 years. She was also one of Australia’s best performers on piano and organ, regularly appearing on ABC Radio.
I have started a hymn for the competition for the 150th Anniversary of St Paul’s Cathedral in Melbourne. I’d better get a wriggle on, because I think the closing date is the end of this month!
I’m also sitting on a romance I have just finished exploring grief when an older man is widowed. I’m waiting for a magazine or competition wanting a short story of a 1,000 words.
How does my work differ from others in my genre?
The honest feedback I get on my poems is twofold. One: people enjoy their musicality, their wordplay and rhymes. Two: they find them too dense in thought, and wonder whether I should put my thoughts more simply.
My stories tend to show detail of landscape and character where other writers leave more to readers’ imaginations.
Like most writers, I struggle to see myself as writing in a preferred genre. I write some fantasy, some SF, even a little romance, some political drama: I see myself writing stories.
Why do I write what I do?
I write about my interests. [I try to be interested in everything.] But I do want my writing to do more than entertain: I want to engage readers. I want them not just to read my hymns, but to sing them. I want them not just to appreciate my point of view in a blog post, but to re-consider their own. I write to persuade; or at least to lay out a viewpoint for real consideration.
I write stories that show characters responding with honesty to challenges that require love and truth. I show people not always being able to rise to challenges, but who can grow to be honest with themselves about their lack of courage or love. I try to avoid the Hollywood solution of bringing a good ending by violent means.
How does my writing/creative process work?
An idea presents itself to me, and I churn it in my head, and it keeps churning until it turns into a story or a poem or blog piece. If it needs research, I research.
There are exceptions: I do write sermons when I am on a roster; I do look for poems to translate. In those cases, the passion comes as I go about the task of uncovering the heart of what I must write.
I write best when I first walk in the morning either along the beach or around the wetlands of Broadwater. I enjoy walking in the quiet of the moment with an empty meditative mind. As I approach the actual writing of the piece, the words gather in my mind to the rhythm of my walking.
Then I sit at my computer and type for an hour and two. I like silence when I write. When I have finished a draft, I go back and edit and re-write until I am reasonably satisfied with the piece.
I’m a proud Noongar woman. I belong to this country. And I know how to open the gnamma hole to get water. I know what to sing to the spirits. I shout loudly to tell them that I’m coming. “Kaya! Ngany nidja!” I call, “Hello! I am here! Woolah! Ngany nidja!” I’m about to throw sand down the gnamma hole to purify the water, when this wadulah man appears.
He’s a wadulah and he’s a man. He thinks he knows everything and he thinks he owns our country.
But he waits, back where I called the spirits, and says to me, respectful-like: ‘Can you get me some water, Aunty?’
I’m a bit surprised. I’ve never heard a wadulah ask before. For anything. If they know where the gnamma hole is they rip the top off and help themselves. I’m a bit suspicious too. ‘What wadulah asks a Noongar woman to get him a drink?’ I ask.
‘If you knew who was asking you,’ he says, ‘you would ask him for living water.’
‘Where would you get living water?’ I ask him, ‘You got no gnamma hole and you got no spirits here. Our ancestors told us how the gnamma hole was made, and how the Wagul passed through the country. You’re not greater than the ancestors, are you?’
He said, ‘When you drink your water you get thirsty again. But whoever drinks the water I give will never get thirsty again. The water I give will be a water-hole gushing up to eternal life.’
I didn’t know whether to laugh or run away from this wadulah. ‘You’d better give me some of your water,’ I says, ‘so I don’t have to come out to the gnamma hole to get it no more.’
So he said to me, ‘Go and get your husband and come back here.’
‘Ain’t got no husband.’
He says, ‘Too right you’ve got no husband. You’ve had five husbands. But the man you’re living with now is not your Law husband.’
I swallowed. ‘Uncle, you must be a prophet. Our ancestors called on the spirits on this mountain and you wadulahs say people should worship in church.’
He replied, ‘Believe me, Aunty, time is coming when you will worship the Father not on this hill nor in church. You worship spirits you do not know. We worship God because he brings salvation. But time is coming when true worshippers will worship the Father in a real true spirit. The Father is looking out for people to be his true worshippers. God is spirit.’
I says, ‘The Mission told us Christ will come and when he comes, he will tell us everything.’ Then he turns to me and puts it to me: ‘I, this one talking to you, I am he. ‘
Just then, his followers came back. They looked shocked to see him talking to me, but they didn’t say to me, ‘What are you after?’ or to him ‘Why are you speaking with her?’ I dropped my water-can and ran down into the camp shouting to everyone, ‘I’ve met someone who’s told me everything I’ve ever done. Could he be Christ? Whoever he is, he’s made me proud of being me!’