Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,”
even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.
I have been looking forward to getting back to the Maya ruins at Calakmul for two years. The time that Jason and I spent there contains some of my favorite memories of my first trip to Mexico. (I keep pictures of us at Calakmul on my bookcase at church as a reminder of that wonderful day almost two years ago.)
The ruins themselves are, of course, intriguing and stunningly beautiful.
Yet it was the massive jungle surrounding the ruins that really drew me in. I have never been any place like it. The jungle is so vast – so green – so dense – so full of wildlife and so very empty of people and all of the stuff we bring with us. There are no cell towers – no power lines – no billboards – and just one rather simple road by American standards.
I have done a fair amount of hiking over the years. It is very rare to have a view that contains only things that God created in it, but at Calakmul the views are of jungle and just jungle as far as the eye can see.
Sometimes the only sounds you hear are those of the birds in the trees, the wind blowing, and the very noisy howler monkeys calling. No cars – no people chatting loudly on their cell phones – no sirens – no sounds of modern life as we have come to know it.
Calakmul is a place outside of the modern world.
It is unlike anything I have ever known before. It is a place where the Holy Spirit seems to roam wild and free – unconstrained by the bounds that we human beings continually try to place on the Holy Spirit time and time again.
At Calakmul, when you hear the blowing of the wind – I believe – you may just be able to hear the movement of the Holy Spirit too – if you are still and quiet and put aside your assumptions and rules and regulations and instead listen for God’s voice.
But I also believe that you don’t have to go so far away.
The Bible tells us the Holy Spirit is at work in our daily lives all of the time – moving and working. But perhaps – we are just too busy to notice the Holy Spirit. Or perhaps we make too many assumptions about what we think the Holy Spirit should do or will do. Or maybe we make too many hard and fast rules that blind us to the work of the Holy Spirit.
I have spent a lot of time recently thinking about the ways we Christians try to put limits on God and God’s activity in the world. And the ways that we Christians make up so very many complex rules about what we think God will and will not do.
I have been questioning why we are so quick to limit how we think God will and will not do things and about who God will and will not work through.
I believe our God is at work in this world in wild, amazing, radical ways. And I fear that we are sometimes very, very blind to God’s powerful work, because of our own smallness and the limits we place on God.
All I know is – that at Calakmul – in the middle of the lush – green jungle – 25 miles from Guatemala – I heard and felt the Holy Spirit moving, and I was in awe of the awesome God we worship.
I truly pray and hope I can take this openness of spirit home with me so that I will be able to see and feel God working in my life and not just in this sacred, remote place in the jungle.