Back in 2015, the following story was originally printed in one of my articles for The Catholic Witness. It bears repeating as I continue my reflections on the Holy Spirit.
When I was a child, my father had to go on an extended business trip to Puerto Rico during one of the snowiest winters in history. As I helped my sister and my mom dig out from the most recent snowfall, I wondered what my dad was doing at the time. You see, he would mail 8 millimeter movies to us, showing him swimming in the Caribbean, playing golf and other warm-weather moments of recreation. After the latest snow fall, I found myself once more off from school and bored out of my mind. At noon time, I heard the squeak of the brakes on the mail truck. Our mailman was truly the epitome of: “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.”
I put on my winter coat, boots and gloves and ventured out to the bottom of the driveway to retrieve a small brown item that the postman had put in the mailbox. To my surprise, I found my name of the surface with a plethora of stamps. I had no idea what I had in my hand. As I stomped the snow off my boots, I called up to my mom, “Ma! There is a package from dad in the mail.” “Open it,” was her response. “I don’t know how!” She asked for the item I clutched in my hand. She giggled, “You have no idea what this is, do you?” “No idea whatsoever!” I retorted.
She explained that it was a fresh coconut my father had evidently collected and mailed to us. My sister explained that if I pried it open, I could drink the coconut milk and delight in its fresh meat. This was going to be a bit tricky. You see, when dad left for Puerto Rico, he locked his tool chest so that my brother would not use his tools.
Undaunted, I combed the shelves searching for a tool to assist in this endeavor. I finally found a bent hammer. Using all my strength, I banged away at the hard exterior of the coconut. After several minutes, there was a tiny crack in the shell. “I need something to pry the crack bigger,” I thought. No abandoned screw drivers were available. I then spied an old pair of stainless-steel scissors with 14 inch blades. With much gusto, I put the blades of the scissors into the crack and twisted and twisted and banged. Finally, I heard a sound that was just a bit alarming. I looked down at the scissors. Both blades had snapped off and were now only about two inches long! The broken blades were deep within the center of the coconut. Giving up a great sigh, I resorted to dropping a cinderblock on the coconut in order to experience the taste of victory!
Upon my dad’s return from his business trip, I related to him the entire story and held up the two-inch blades of the scissors for his inspection. Between his peals of laughter as he shook his head, he asked, “Ahh, the purpose of scissors are?” I responded, with eyes downward, “Cutting material or paper.” He replied, “You learned an important lesson: Use tools for the purpose in which they were created.”
My dad was a great teacher! The Holy Spirit is THE TEACHER, par excellence! His mission is to instruct each and every human soul in God’s ways. He bestows gifts upon us that are unique graces designed by God to assist us to live within the will of the Father. These gifts, once taken root within us, transform us to seek the Father’s will in all things. This transformation gives us the strength to fight the wiles of the Evil One and work toward ridding ourselves from imperfections which block the flow of grace.
The result of this process? One becomes conscious of participating in Divine Love, that is, the soul’s awareness of being a part of God’s life of love. This is not just the call of those who are “saints,” but for everyone who has been baptized!
Read and ponder that phrase in bold: conscious of participating in Divine Love. I don’t think we truly understand what that means. Divine Love: The love of the Father poured out into the Son. The love of the Son poured out into the Father. The love of the Spirit poured out into the Father and the Son. Love. Transforming love. Love that heals, recreates, makes new, brings new life and deepens our understanding of what self-giving love is all about. Doesn’t this make your heart flutter?
So, snap on your tool belts as we dive deeper into each of these tools or gifts of the Holy Spirit.
By Sister Geralyn Schmidt, SCC, Special to The Witness