She sits like a bird, brooding on the waters,
hovering on the chaos of the world’s first day;
she sighs and she sings, mothering creation,
waiting to give birth to all the Word will say.
She wings over earth, resting where she wishes,
lighting close at hand or soaring through the skies;
she nestsin the womb, welcoming each wonder,
nourishing potential hidden to our eyes.
She dances in fire, startling her spectators,
waking tongues of ecstasy where dumbness reigned;
she weans and inspires all whose hearts are open,
nor can she be captured, silenced or restrained.
For she is the Spirit, one with God in essence,
gifted by the Saviour in eternal love;
and she is the key opening the scriptures,
enemy of apathy and heavenly dove.
– John L. Bell & Graham Maule, ‘Enemy of Apathy’, in The Iona Abbey Worship Book (Glasgow: Wild Goose Publications, 2003), 193. (The hymn also appears in Church Hymnary 4, #593, and in some other places too)
That’s lovely. Describing the Spirit as a dove dancing in fire and as an “enemy of apathy” reminds me of T.S. Elliot’s verses in “Little Gidding.”
“The dove descending breaks the air
With flame of incandescent terror
Of which the tongues declare
The one dischage from sin and error.
The only hope, or else despair
Lies in the choice of pyre of pyre-
To be redeemed from fire by fire.
Who then devised the torment? Love.
Love is the unfamiliar Name
Behind the hands that wove
The intolerable shirt of flame
Which human power cannot remove.
We only live, only suspire
Consumed by either fire or fire.”