But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you.
At times, I wish there was a visible sign it was the Holy Spirit speaking to me, so I would know when to listen to it, and when to work at filtering out my own ego and emotional baggage. Then, with this visible sign, I would know for certain the finest details of God’s plan for me and I could live out my life in harmonious perfection. However, while it may come to others with ease, it has been my experience that discerning the voice of the Holy Spirit can be complicated, and my personal biases cause me to make mistakes. When my beliefs are affirmed, I feel better and more secure, but I am not sure the purpose of the Holy Spirit is to make me feel secure in everything I believe to be true about the world. Of course, a frustrating aspect of faith in general, is that faith is not the same as certainty and I am starting to think the Holy Spirit is more concerned about challenging my certainties than affirming what I hold true.
I liked the 2017 film adaption of The Shack, by William P. Young not because I thought it captured the key to the workings of the Holy Spirit, but because it opened my mind to various perspectives, angles, and possibilities I had not considered. In the movie there is a scene between Mack (the story’s protagonist) and Suraya (the Holy Spirit in human form). In the scene, Suraya helped Mack tend a lush, exotic garden that appeared unwieldy and messy. Crazed with anger and grief over the murder of his daughter, Mack accompanied Suraya as they cut down weeds, dug up roots, and there did not appear to be a logical reason behind the order of the garden.
Then Suraya pointed out how although that branch was poisonous on its own, combined with another root, it became a powerful healing agent. “This is your garden,” she tells Mack. At this point, the camera rises above their heads and zooms out to slowly reveal that what looked like an unkempt garden was in fact a very small piece of a much larger, complex, intricately beautiful design that would not be visible to anyone positioned in the middle of it. The bigger picture was present all along, but a simple shift in the perspective of the camera angle revealed an ordered design of great beauty.
Through this scene, I learned a valuable lesson about my own myopic nature and how I can, in fact, be resistant to what the Holy Spirit seeks to teach me because it does not jibe with what appears to be true, what I believe to be true, or even what I want to be true. However, I maintain hope that I will be open to the Holy Spirit dragging me to that uncomfortable place between faith and certainty.
Office of Youth Faith Development, Archdiocese of Moncton