Horses by Jim Harrison
In truth I am puzzled most in life
by nine horses.
I’ve been watching them for eleven weeks
in a pasture near Melrose.
Two are on one side of the fence and seven
on the other side.
They stare at one another from the same places
hours and hours each day.
This is another unanswerable question
to haunt us with the ordinary.
They have to be talking to one another
in a language without a voice.
Maybe they are speaking the wordless talk of lovers,
sullen, melancholy, jubilant.
Linguists say that language comes after music
and we sang nonsense syllables
before we invented a rational speech
to order our days.
We live far out in the country where I hear
creature voices night and day.
Like us they are talking about their lives
on this brief visit to earth.
In truth each day is a universe in which
we are tangled in the light of stars.
Stop a moment. Think about these horses
in their sweet-smelling silence.
from Songs of Unreason. © Copper Canyon Press, 2011.
We are tangled in the light of stars.
The followers of Christ were all together in one place, probably still reeling from the events of the last few days and weeks, when suddenly all of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability. Their voices, their stories, their accounts of love and life changed by their relationship with Christ – all this came forth from them by the power of the Spirit, and in this moment, they were tangled in the light of stars.
Pentecost is often framed as only a miracle of language – women and men were able to speak other languages that, we hear, they did not formerly speak. Our minds usually default to a room filled with people speaking any number of languages of the day all at one time.
God, however, is never only one thing. The light-flame of Pentecost that lights upon us all as followers of Christ tangles us in that moment with the light of God, the very moment of creation when God’s very words and voice gave order to the universe and called life into being, a life filled with variety and diversity.
We become tangled with telling the story of God’s love because we are tangled in God’s love. Our voices, our actions, our very beings are empowered by the Sprit to be witnesses of God’s love in the world.
We are witnesses to this love by sharing our stories and using our voice. But do we give equal weight to how we share this love by the language of our presence, by the language of silence, and by the language of being with another fully?
Do we talk about our lives as Christians on our brief visit on earth using the many languages we’ve been given by the Spirit?
Our Spirit-filled language invites us to share how our lives have been resurrected from moments we thought we would surely die under the weight of grief with a friend who is now lost in the midst of her own despair. And our Spirit-filled language speaks as powerfully through the moments we hand her a tissue, hold her hand, sit with her in silence, and leave a casserole in her refrigerator.
Our Spirit-filled language gives us words to sing of the love of God in music written through the ages. And our Spirit-filled language welcomes us as we stand at the fence for hours and listen to creation sing God’s praises through foals running with wild abandon across rolling hills as the sun sets on another day.
Our Spirit-filled language welcomes the newly-baptized with our word-filled prayers, and our Spirit-filled language anoints each of us with holy oil, reminding us in the drenching of water and oil and Spirit, we are marked as Christ’s own forever.
Our Spirit-filled language is vast, deep, and wide. Its communication encompasses words and stories, silence and sighs, dance and stillness.
The Spirit-filled language reminds us we are tangled in the light of stars.
We are tangled in the love of God.
What are the ways your communication is inspired by the Spirit, especially ways that don’t involve talking? How can you express the language of the Spirit without words?