Flowers like flames

Acts 2:1–4 The flames separated and settled on each of them…. Ten years ago at this time I was on a retreat at Our Lady of Solitude in the Sonoran Desert in Arizona. During most of my three and a half weeks at OLS, the only other retreatant was an abbess on sabbatical from her convent in India. She and I spent much of each day together in silence in the chapel. One day she looked at me knowingly and pointed to the now flowering ocotillo plant outside the chapel window. “It’s almost Pentecost,” she said. “Those flowers remind me of flames.” The anticipation of Pentecost in the middle of one of the hardest years of my life. Spring in the desert during an El Niño year. Flowers like flames. The director of OLS when I was there, Sister Therese Sedlock, has since passed away, and OLS is now the […]

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Acts 1:9–11 Jesus rose from the dead (Easter), appeared to various people over the course of forty-plus days (the Easter season), ascended into heaven (Ascension), then sent the Holy Spirit to those he had left behind (Pentecost)—a series of terrifying, beautiful surprises. Today is the sixth Saturday of Easter; Thursday was Ascension Day; Pentecost is in eight days. We’re in the middle of all this crazy new life. The bulbs I planted in December put up a few flowers and are now reduced to drooping green stalks, but … the wild irises outside my office window are rioting. There are six flowers out there this morning. Go figure.

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The last thing anyone saw

John 20:17 Jesus said, “Go to my brothers and tell them, ‘I ascend to my Father and your Father, my God and your God.’” Acts 1:9 After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight. In York Minster, I remember seeing the soles of Jesus’ feet depicted on the ceiling, surrounded by a cloud. The last thing anyone saw of his physical body as he ascended! I can’t find any sign of such a thing on the Internet, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. Here’s my version.

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