It’s a church joke that during a religious service whenever something happens that is somewhat serendipitous or unexpected it must be the Holy Spirit!
In my former parish where the church gathered in a hundred year-old building, bats were a problem; I can now laugh at memories of the most poignant moments of funerals, weddings and sermons where a bat would swoop down from the heavens …. The Holy Spirit!
Or, at an emotional high of a sermon, or during the Holy Communion, or at the dramatic climax of a bible reading – the power would go out, a lightning would flash and the clap of thunder would boom, or a gust of wind would rattle the windows and whistle through the eaves ….. The Holy Spirit!
The joke always reveals a slice of truth. When the Holy Spirit comes, we are indeed surprised, rendered speechless and startled, even. We laugh, maybe because the timing couldn’t be better.
But, on Friday when the magnitude 5.1 earthquake struck just kilometers from my home, I wasn’t laughing and I didn’t think the timing was the great.
Because it was my day-off, and I was trying to relax and enjoy a stress-free ‘vacation’, so to speak. When dishware and glasses startled rattling and the floors started heaving, I was pulled out of my dream-like state and escapist reverie into a moment of stark reality.
I was forced to face the reality of life and death. In a split second, I wondered if I should vacate the house and save my skin. And in that second I wondered if our two-story duplex would collapse over me.
When the shaking subsided, I couldn’t help but be brought out of my ‘vacation’ and into an appreciation of my ‘vocation’. I had to be grounded – excuse the pun – and re-orient myself in who I am and my purpose in life. So, I looked outside my window to see if there was any damage on our street and/or distressed neighbors in need. I remembered that, deep down, my calling in life draws me to others and serving their needs.
At this time of year, indeed, being the first long weekend of the unofficial summer season, I’m dreaming of vacations. Maybe you are, too. I look forward to a time to rest, restore, get away from it all and enjoy God’s beautiful creation.
At the same time, I realize yet again that just because we may be on a vacation, we are still living out our vocation. The word, ‘vocation’, comes from the Latin word which means “to call”. Our vocation is what God calls us to be and do. And, we cannot escape that vocation – even though we may try.