Funny how much a song's meaning can be affected by mood or thought. I'd always thought of Faith Hill's That's How Love Moves as a typical romantic love song...
Ah, but today I was listening with different ears. Today, this sounded like a love song to God.
This morning, I'd reread Valerie's weekly email to the congregation in which she spoke of the Spirit being like the wind:
Sometimes the Spirit’s presence is like a hurricane, at other times a soft gentle breeze but always it touches us in some way that changes our reality.
With that in mind, I was listening to the song's lyrics, and it struck me that the Spirit is also much "like a river running through you". It can be strong enough to carry you through the rapids, other times is so calm that you can see yourself reflected in it. The rest of the lyrics fit too. It can definitely feel like "the miracle that makes me everything I am". The Spirit's presence can also feel like "the voice of love calling, without making a sound", it can "consume you", can be "a whisper" or "a storm". "Sometimes it lifts you high as Heaven"...
Listening with ears and heart open to the presence of God, this song took on a whole new meaning for me.
The words, especially the first verse, also remind me of two people who helped me to open my heart to the Spirit. When I started attending church few years ago, I was by and large surrounded by people who thought of church as an obligation, a tedious experience to be endured only when necessary. (One friend was once ridiculing "church geeks" - you know, those weirdos who sit up front, bopping along to the music, actually enjoying the service...er, that would be me!) Not the easiest atmosphere in which to embark on a journey of faith. I am blessed to have encountered two vastly different people whose ministries have enabled me to find the courage to continue my journey, and openly embrace my inner church geek!
My first year of church was a good beginning. I felt the presence of God while in the sanctuary listening to our eloquent minister, Reverend Iain (a former CBC reporter). His sermons resonated with me. He had a marvellous ability to make scripture relevant, using modern situations, throwing in literary references, etc. This was helpful since I had never read much of the Bible, let alone studied it...a fact that hasn't actually changed, but I am slowly absorbing its lessons through listening to sermons (and to the stories told during children's time!) I began to change, although my faith remained elusive outside of the church. When Iain announced his retirement, I was worried about my own church future. I'd tried a couple churches before finding St. John's and hadn't felt a connection...I thought oh no, I'm just starting to fit into this new place, what if I don't connect with the new minister?? Would my spiritual quest go up in smoke already?? Then I met the new minister.
I felt such a strong connection right from the start and still find it amazing to have felt so comfortable with her so quickly. I often wondered, sometimes in conversation with my sister, if that was because I got in on the ground floor of Valerie's ministry in our church, so to speak. Valerie came to us in the more intimate atmosphere of summer worship, when things are less formal, the pews are emptier. A setting more conducive to getting to know someone than in other, busier times. By the time fall rolled around and her convenanting service took place, it felt like she'd been part of my journey for far longer than a couple months.
As a friend, she inspires me to share stories I don't often share, walls do indeed come tumbling down, I feel lighter when I share the things that weigh down my soul. As a mother herself, she inspires me to let my daughters walk their own paths, to be a place of support and love for them without judgement.
As a minister, she inspires me to find things in myself that I never knew were there. Although that can also be unsettling as I struggle to find ways, and the time, to act on these things. Her sermons, too, resonate with me. She has a gift of bringing scripture to life, of finding new meaning, of infusing her words with joy and enthusiasm. Through hearing her prayers, I have found my own voice to converse with God. I feel less self conscious about my faith and am far more open to the Spirit's presence. I continue to change, my faith grows ever stronger, though many questions remain. Fortunately, under Valerie's ministry, I have many opportunities to explore these questions - Sunday worship, Cafe Soul, conversation - and have come to realize that questioning only serves to deepen my faith. She wrapped the arms of her ministry around me, and I will never be the same.