Sunday, June 12, 2011

Pentecost and typhoons

[A version of this is cross-posted at RGBP as the Sunday Afternoon Music Video]

It's Pentecost, which always brings to mind the start of this sonnet of John Donne's
Batter my heart, three-person'd God, for you
As yet but knock, breathe, shine, and seek to mend;
That I may rise and stand, o'erthrow me, and bend
Your force to break, blow, burn, and make me new.
The Spirit often feels like a boisterous presence among us, shaking the timbers of the churches as well as our souls. Two weeks ago today I was in Japan, my plans to take a ferry across the Inland Sea scuttled by a great wind - a Tai Phun. Yet it was not the great winds and deluging rains that took my breath away, it was the post-typhoon clarity. The water pouring forth from a steep mountain side, folding and re-folding the light of the sun, molten gold in the afternoon sun.

Estonian composer Arvo Pärt's setting of the traditional Pentecost sequence, Veni Spirtus Sancte, has that same stilling clarity for me. Part of a Mass composed for Pentecost, first celebrated in Berlin in 1990, I find it reaches deep into my soul. Clear, ringing quietly, in the space cleared by the great winds and flames, the Spirit works here, too...


  1. I just coincidentally posted some Arvo on my FB page, I am using Credo as part of a presentation... If I ever get the dang paper on creeds completed! That coincidence thing again!

    Lovely post Michelle.

  2. Thank you, Fran! Given Who I think is responsible for all the coincidence and today's feast, can I say I'm not surprised you've got Arvo swirling around?

    Good luck with the paper!!! Sometimes I miss the ebb and flow of taking classes, but these days I have enough deadlines in my life, I think....