CANON PATRICK’S 106th LETTER

Dear friends,
One of those Scriptural phrases which has remained with me from my schooldays is Jesus’
remark to Nicodemus, when talking about the Holy Spirit: ‘the wind bloweth where it
listeth’. The Good News Bible modernises that as ‘The wind blows wherever it wishes’. On
this Pentecost Sunday, those words are a useful reminder that the Holy Spirit is an
expression of God being God. Early Syrian Christians, who spoke a language close to that
used by Jesus, regarded the Holy Spirit as feminine. We cannot force the Spirit to act in a
particular way, nor should we try to manipulate her power. On occasions we may become
aware of her as an unexpected blessing, but more usually she is silently present, helping to
shape our lives. The Iona hymnwriter John Bell has expressed the wonderful paradox of the
way in which the Holy Spirit works: ‘Gentler than air, wilder than wind, settling yet also
deranging, the Spirit thrives in human lives both changeless and yet changing’.

I can think of three times in my life when the Holy Spirit made her presence felt. Like all
spiritual experience, these occasions were intensely personal and subjective. An outside
observer might dismiss them as a chemical upset in the brain, a quirk caused by my peculiar
upbringing, or even the result of whatever I’d eaten for breakfast or lunch. The first was
during my Confirmation, as the school choir sang ‘Come Holy Ghost, our souls inspire…’ The
second was when, as an undergraduate, I stood on a clifftop near St Davids and was
overwhelmed with a sense of the presence and reality of God. The third came when, trying
to escape from my embarrassing and unfashionable vocation, I’d run away to Aberystwyth
to do research into an obscure woman poet and achieve academic respectability.

It was only then, when I finally gave in to God and accepted my calling, that, quite
unexpectedly I had a third spiritual experience. This was after receiving Communion for the
first time in many months, and was followed by the gift of a threefold prayer that has
sustained me through over four decades of ministry; ‘Lord, make me whole, make me
humble, help me to love’. I’m not sure that that prayer has been fully answered, but it was
what I needed then, and what I still need now. And no doubt, over the years, the Spirit has
continued to work quietly ‘both changeless and yet changing’ in my life as in all of ours.

SERVICES: Sunday 23 May (Pentecost/Sulgwyn) 9.15am HOLY EUCHARIST in Christ Church
(p.147); 11yb CYMUN BENDIGAID ar ZOOM; 5pm ZOOM EVENING PRAYER; Wednesday 26
May 10.30am HOLY EUCHARIST in Christ Church (p.287); Sunday 30 May (Trinity Sunday)
9.15am HOLY EUCHARIST in Christ Church (p.154); 5pm ZOOM EVENING PRAYER. Please
contact ROSEMARY BOWEN (English services) or MALCOLM JONES (gwasanaethau
Cymraeg) to ensure a place at Sunday services in church. The Reverend Delyth Richards
can provide information about Llangunnor services. I can let you know about services at
Llannewydd/Newchurch.

Canon Patrick

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