My dad’s name was “Joe Clarke.” He had the unfortunate luck of sharing his name with a former Prime Minister who was just as well-known as Joe Who. Dad smiled and almost chuckled every time (and it was a lot of times) someone joked about his name.
Clergy suffer a similar fate with the weather. People (and yes, I mean you) joke about the weather, as if clergy had some sort of inside track with God and therefore the weather. Ninety-nine percent of the time these jokes are made when the weather is inclement. So I smile, almost chuckle and quip, “I don’t get credit for good weather, so I won’t take the blame for the bad.” Clever, eh?
The typical image of God’s Holy Spirit is a dove. A nice, pleasant dove. And when we think of that spiritual feeling that will come over us from time to time, we think it will be nice and pleasant too. But in Celtic spirituality the Holy Spirit is depicted as a wild goose. They don’t mean a majestic bird souring across a beautiful sunset. They mean a big, loud, noisy bird that won’t be domesticated. And if you’ve ever tried to sleep near a gaggle of migrating geese who have nested for the night (and I have), you can’t. The point of the wild goose image is that the Holy Spirit cannot be ignored, she will keep you awake and she won’t be controlled by any human. Not even clergy.
The farmer wants rain while the family on their way to the beach want sun. I am thankful the weather is beyond my control. Just as I am thankful God’s Holy Spirit is beyond my control. Each of us might want our St. Paul’s Parish to be different things, but our quest is to be what this big, loud, noisy bird wants us to be.