Then, Suddenly

In the story of the Pentecost, I am drawn to the experience of those who received the flame of the Spirit and then, suddenly, they could converse and praise their God in languages formerly not their own.

Our professor shared this image with us, which is Emile Nolde’s “Pentecost”.

Before being licked awake by flames from the divine, were they praying with eyes closed? Were they heavy lidded and desiring knowledge and understanding? How does this feel in their brains, this wash of knowledge and ability? I think it would be akin to how some psychoactive drugs must feel.

Or how about Paul who used to go by Saul? He was blithely on his way to persecute more followers of Jesus and then, “suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him” (Acts 9:3). He falls down blind and Jesus speaks to him inside his mind. Saul/Paul is instantly changed. Jesus tells him where to go and what to do and he is obedient and dedicates his every remaining day to serving Jesus.

This is the picture we got with that story. It’s Caravaggio’s “Conversion of St. Paul“.

Life will never be the same. What was happening in HIS brain? Here is the moment of his change; before this was he laughing? Telling a joke about Jesus freaks? After the flash of light and voice of Jesus, did Paul have a moment of “What the…?” Did he have to try to accept his changed state, or was he so changed, that it seemed obvious that this would be his new reality?

One thing that did not change for Paul is a near obsession on Jesus. He thought about Jesus and his followers all the time before the conversion. He thought about them just as much afterwards. Similarly, those present and affected at Pentecost were already followers of Jesus. In both stories, those affected were focusing hard on the thing that eventually changed them.

Now to be even more flippant and irreverent. I think the same applies to the concepts of flow, and about my learning juggling. I’ve been thinking about juggling, using my mind and my body-mind. It’s been weeks of thinkinging juggling juggling juggling.

This morning I picked up the balls and then, suddenly caught 53 throws of a three ball cascade.

Yesterday I was trying to connect to the emotional state of a client and I opened my mouth, not knowing what to say and then, suddenly, the right words fell out.

It’s not a flash of divinity – but I think it lands in the same spectrum of experience. And in a thematically beautiful flash of inspiration I recalled these images of Paul and of the Pentecost. Now, I have this paper to write that is actually past due because in a flurry of changed due dates, I got confused. Maybe though, maybe I needed this small dose of divine inspiration to finally get me writing.

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