Every Flame Becomes a Tongue of Praise

El Greco, Pentecost

Spiritual Sunday – Pentecost

The wonderful Malcolm Guite has a sonnet for every Christian holy day, including Pentecost. Luke (Acts 2:1-4) describes the moment when the Holy Spirit entered the disciples as it had entered Jesus:

When the day of Pentecost had come, the disciples were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.

And now for Guite’s sonnet, which to capture the moment must pile up the metaphors–as must Luke:

Today we feel the wind beneath our wings
Today  the hidden fountain flows and plays
Today the church draws breath at last and sings
As every flame becomes a Tongue of praise.
This is the feast of fire, air, and water
Poured out and breathed and kindled into earth.
The earth herself awakens to her maker
And is translated out of death to birth.
The right words come today in their right order
And every word spells freedom and release
Today the gospel crosses every border
All tongues are loosened by the Prince of Peace
Today the lost are found in His translation.
Whose mother-tongue is Love, in  every nation.

Previous posts on Pentecost
2019 Czeslaw Milosz: Come, Holy Spirit
2018 Lucille Clifton: Light Breaks Where No Light Was Before
2017 Denise Levertov: Pulled into the Ring of the Dance
2015 William Blake: To See God, the Heart Must Catch Fire
2013 Henry Wadsworth Longfellow: Look into Thine Heart and Write
2012 Ken Sehested: Pentecost Is When All Heaven Breaks Loose
2011 Derek Walcott: Pentecost Flames, Fireflies’ Crooked Street  
2010 Mary Oliver: Life Storming Out of the Darkness

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