Just over three months ago, I said "Adiós" to everything that was comfortable and familiar and left home for a sabbatical immersion in Central America.
I was on a quest to learn Spanish, but it didn't take me long to figure out this adventure was not going to be easy. That first moment I walked into my Guatemalan home and met my "madre." I thought she was speaking gibberish! The only thing that was clear to me was this was going to be a long and painful three months!
That first night in my small, dark, foreign room I regretted the decision and feared I'd be lost and confused forever. I was anxious every time someone spoke to me. I froze up. I went mute. The words were only a scramble of sounds. I was a stranger in a strange land.
In the Book of Acts we encounter the Holy Spirit at work in Jerusalem. Gathered that morning were devout Jews from the Diaspora, each speaking in their own language, no one capable of understanding the other.
Until all of a sudden with the rush of the wind and tongues of fire like modern day light bulbs above their heads miraculously they understood one another!
This year the story has a new and profound meaning for me.
I don't remember the exact moment of my Pentecost experience – but somewhere and somehow the Spirit worked in me — and suddenly the sounds weren't gibberish anymore — I understood and when I spoke people understood me. I relished my ability to communicate. Finally, I was heard.
And then I realized that's what we all want: to connect, to be understood, to be heard. Even when we're speaking the same language, the truth is we spend a lot of time speaking gibberish, talking at people, never really pausing to listen and ultimately feeling misunderstood.
And that's the Pentecost miracle. Instead of running around, bumping into one another, talking gibberish and making noise – the Spirit gives us the ability to listen, to understand, and to be heard.
All we have to do is let the Spirit in …
We might just find out that we can communicate – God's given us the Language of Love!
To hear more about my experience you can listen to my sermon: "¿Cómo? ¿ Qué? ¿Huh?" at http://www.ocfairview.podbean.com.
THE REV. SARAH HALVERSON is the pastor at Fairview Community Church in Costa Mesa.