In the seasons of the Christian year, last Sunday was the Feast of Pentecost and I was surprised to find that last Monday was noted in my Google calendar as Whit Monday. Whitsun is an older name for Pentecost and until 1972 what is now the Spring Bank holiday fixed at the end of May was instead a holiday taken on Whit Monday.
There are various theories about the source of the word ‘Whit’. Some think it is derived from white, the colour of purification and baptism into the way of faith. Others think it is connected to the word now spelt ‘wit’, and has to do with the Holy Spirit as the Spirit of Wisdom. As we approach Trinity Sunday this weekend we might also be prompted to remember the Trinity expressed not only as Father, Son and Spirit, but as Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer, or perhaps Companion.
Pentecost is these days a single Sunday at the end of the season of Easter in the Christian year, but I prefer, if I can, to observe a season of Pentecost for a few weeks. Because I find I need time to be reminded again of the richness in our understanding and experience of God’s Spirit that goes right back to that first outpouring on the disciples in Jerusalem. It is also well expressed in this prayer of the influential 11th century abbess, writer and mystic Hildegard of Bingen.
Holy Spirit, the life that gives life:
You are the cause of all movement.
You are the breath of all creatures.
You are the salve that purifies our souls.
You are the ointment that heals our wounds.
You are the fire that warms our hearts.
You are the light that guides our feet.
Let all the world praise you!
Happy Pentecost season!