[originally posted 6/19/17]
Romans 8:26- The Spirit helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings that cannot be uttered.
The Spirit grants each of us the experience of a flowing mind. The Spirit can be viewed as being “strong” or “entering us” (and that’s just fine), but rather than seeing this as a description of material “spirit stuff” moving into the physical space of our bodies or “spiritual space” of our souls, we might best see this as a great way to illustrate the unimaginable or to outline the formless through the words that can actually be spoken.
The unutterable encounter with the Spirit is an event that is not attained by effort or even earned through devout asceticism: the Spirit is the discoverable movement of our spirit toward union with God through Christ — it is already interwoven with our experience as children of God.
The intercession that is gifted to us is the relief of knowing that failure is inevitable (and even invaluable)… The pain of humility (i.e. authentic self-knowledge of limitation) is recast as virtue through surrender to the indwelling presence and action of the Spirit (which is the eternal birth of Christ within us, as Eckhart might say).
Sin, temptation, failure, wickedness, trials, weakness… these can all be seeds of faith. Faith is consent to the emergence of the presence and action of the Spirit (consent to the birth of Christ within us), and the awakening to the presence and action of the Spirit is the unfolding of Christ’s resurrection in-and-as a perspectival shift in our identity [see Thomas Keating]. The resulting gift of contemplation is itself the Grace of God.
We cannot attain this shift, but we can receive it by allowing the Spirit to speak wordless prayer through our being — all we have to do is move out of the way, and die (“it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me“).