We sat near the front, the great dome of the church almost directly above us. Two wide strips of green fabric crossed the dome, one nearly at its very top, the other just above the rim of the dome. The green signifies “ordinary time” in the Church calendar, the time of hope and growth that follows the Easter season. In Ordinary Time the truths of Good Friday, Easter, the Ascension, and Pentecost are to move us into renewed life in Christ.
I noticed the green banners as we entered but then forgot about them as the service began.
Midway through it, the children came to light our candles, and the cantor led us in singing a Psalm with Alleluia. Afterwards we walked to the cross and placed our lit candles around it. When I returned to my seat and settled into the silence that followed, I saw movement above me. The rising heat from the candles was billowing the green fabric banner at the rim of the dome. The green cloth rose and fell, twisted and swung. The heat rose higher, and the banner at the top began to sway.
I couldn’t stop watching them. They were alive with candle breath, rippling, their color made deeper, richer with the movement.
They were beautiful.
“Come, Holy Spirit,” I whispered. “Come with Your breath, Your wind, Your flame.”
The banners still swayed when we filed out, and in the car, I asked little Emery, my friend’s daughter, if she’d noticed the waves of green overhead. She had, but didn’t know what caused it. Her mother and I embarked on a science lesson, that heat, rising, disrupts the cooler air, causes currents.
It’s been several days now, but I can still picture those billowing banners. Luke 24:32 comes to mind. The two disciples who walked the road to Emmaus with a risen and un-recognized Christ have just realized the identity of their traveling companion. “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked … and opened the Scriptures to us?” they said.
The Holy Scriptures…
Fanned into flame by the presence of God.
Come, Holy Spirit, like a tongue of fire, a violent wind, a breath, and fan into flame the Living Word.
And with the heat that rises,