What if the Holy Spirit is like allergies?

Maybe not the best comparison I have ever had…, I’ll give you that, but seriously, what if the Holy Spirit is like allergies?

This past Sunday, in worship, we got to hear the resurrected Jesus tell his disciples that he is breathing the Holy Spirit on them and for them to receive it. Born on the breath of blow air, the Holy Spirit is imparted to the disciples. (Remind me – How is pollen carried again?) And this Holy Spirit thing will change their lives. It will infect them with a love, and a passion, and a courage that they had not known before – and it will shift everything about how they act.

And so often, we think of the Holy Spirit as a gentle thing— A sweet dove. A handful of water gently over a baby’s head. A flame held flickering atop of a candle. And I love these images. They are beautiful and gentle and seem placid.

But what if sometimes the Holy Spirit is a rushing river, or a taloned dove, or a bush shooting flames, or a wind that nearly blows the walls out? What if the Holy Spirit isn’t always so gentle but sometimes is hard and challenging? What if once you breathe her into your lungs she begins to change what is going on there — not to make your throat swell up and cough up phlegm and all that jazz, but to shift the very way you breathe and move and act in the world?

And in the same way that most of us can’t help but cough and clear our throats during allergy season, what if the Spirit also is working within us so that we can’t help but feel the Spirit? And when we breathe the Holy Spirit deep into our lungs, it opens us up to care from our neighbors, to smile and help those broken down, and even to say prayers of thanks in strange places like hospital lobbies and hotel elevators. What if God is in the wind and is changing who we are, not to make us cough and lose the life-breath-air in us, but instead inflects our lungs helping us breathe life even deeper – and even shifting who we are?