He walked gently upon the Earth.
He was kind and carried more empathy in his heart than anyone I have met.
He was shy and unassuming but he could swing dance and pray.
He did not fit into his skin and it haunted him every day because he lived in Redneck Country where bibles slammed and shamed.
He worked until he couldn’t but he still gave and learned humility through fear and acceptance.
He loved animals and they loved him.
He loved me and my brothers unconditionally.
He saw the wealth in the wisdom of Seniors and in the Lost and Broken-Hearted.
He loved my children and their spouses and he loved my grandchildren yet he was only able to meet my grandsons through FaceTime.
His voice was soft and yet his energy was full of musicals and Hollywood Greats.
He was nervous every second of every day of his life but he never lacked the strength to tell someone that he loved them.
He enjoyed a salvific and heart wrenching relationship with our mother who gave everything and more to keep him with us. A true love story.
He grew tired of the rejection, betrayal and abandonment of our world while our family held him, knew him and loved all of him.
He loved Jesus and the music of Steven Curtis Chapman.
He was here for 48 years.
He walked gently upon the earth wanting and needing what we all want and need…to be seen, to be known and to be cherished.
And now he is gone.
But just from our sight, not from our souls because that is impossible.
As Steven Curtis Chapman sings, “I’ll See You In a Little While” I live in anticipation of being with my whole and happy brother.
Until then, I’ve got this Teddy. I will take care of Mom and Big Guy. Promise Promise.
I love you my brother, a courageous soul with a cause who just happened to be a minnow kisser.
And P.S. If you did not have the opportunity or take the time to get to know Teddy, well…you missed Heaven on earth.
His big Sister
There is new evidence that a fire in a coal bunker inside the Titanic weakened its structure making the iceberg impact worse than it otherwise might have been. The fire was ignored? Only heaven knows. What we do know is that experts agree that a combination of different factors led to the Titanic’s disaster.
The first voyage of the magnificent ship was doomed before it set sail because the heart of the Captain was focused on himself instead of his responsibility to listen, watch, navigate and steer. The ship’s speed was too fast for the ice filled waters and a critical and documented iceberg warning was missed. Was the Captain not equipped to deal with life threatening warnings? If he was equipped his role would have been to turn the ship around and address the weather issues, passenger complaints, media disappointment and take the heat for caring for the safety of his passengers, crew and ship. Was he prepared to be courageous and ethical?
The prefix “MSG” was missing from the critical iceberg warning so Captain Phillips chose to believe the message was not urgent. How long did he wait to discern when the warning was urgent? What did it take to get his attention that the boat and her precious cargo and mission were in grave danger? And why, when the ship is in the most dangerous waters, did the Captain give the wheel to a Senior Officer, Charles Lightoller, instead of being on deck fulfilling his role?
First Officer William Murdoch was the first to spot the iceberg and scream a ‘hard a-starboard’ order to which Officer LIghtoller turned the ship the wrong direction. The ship and its leaders were operating under two communication systems that were in direct opposition with one another. Under one system, to turn ‘hard a-starboard’ meant to turn left and right under the other. By the time the Captain and Officers had listened and corrected their move, it was too late.
This past weekend I had the privilege of being on the Conference Praise Team “Joyful Noise” and listening to the speakers who spoke to the needs and woundings of clergy by church leaders, colleagues and congregants. One speaker, a psychologist, talked with us about “circles of trust” being critical safe places for clergy to feel safe enough to courageously share their truth with the Empire. Many clergy dared greatly and stood before the 400 clergy and Conference paid accountable and volunteer lay leaders speaking their truth through fear and tears. I was sad to see so many clergy feeling undermined, misunderstood, betrayed, rejected and abandoned. The speaker replied, “Thank you for your courage to speak with us. Can you imagine how many more inside this room are afraid to speak and seek support for their ministry and congregation?”
During free time at the Conference I noticed small circles appearing in different places around the Pomero Hotel and I could see persons talking quietly and intently while others listened and held space and hands. Conversations of clergy being spiritually and emotionally bullied and abused began to come out of the closet of our affirming lingo. One minister shared that after they retire they will never walk into another church. I know this person and I have listened to her heart, her tears and her sermons. She is a huge presence in our Conference who has been bullied and abused by clergy, leaders and congregants. To watch her suffer anxiety issues that affect her health breaks my heart.
In my own congregation, critical warnings were documented and provided by myself per request by appropriate leaders and they were argued over and then ignored. Then a scream came out during a Council meeting in 2015 by this co-captain begging for people to heed and see the iceberg in the room but no one was willing to listen until the iceberg was upon us and then the truth hit the ship where a fire had long been burning and ignored. For the last year I have been the Captain willing to be on deck in the boat with my congregation. Sadly, the signs are pointing to this Captain walking the plank of her imperfections, blind eyes in courts of leadership and gas lighting that warped perceptions and created circles of blame and shame. When clergy present a consistent false persona to their congregation, they bring down their personal and professional ships in ways that place responsibility on everyone else but themselves. People have been manipulated, lied to and used to deflect and cover up a pattern of icebergs and watching this unfold since April 2014 almost broken my spirit. All I have left is my integrity, my truth and documented critical warnings and my love for you which has never wavered. As these next four weeks unfold between us I pray that each one of us may look into our hearts and see where we have been called to speak to the Empire and take responsibility for our part in sweeping the iceberg under the carpet and blaming another for the effects of the past few years. We are all ministers. We are all called to speak the truth in love no matter how ugly it may be because we are called to be reconciled to God, ourselves and one another as one body in Christ. We are called to own what is ours and to refuse to be scapegoated because that means others are hurting, not just the goat on the cross. We are called to listen and ask clarifying questions, not assume that we have heard correctly or understood what another has said. I was diagnosed with PTSD because of the sustained stress of betrayal, abandonment and rejection. My voice was enlisted but not heard and I own that it is difficult to complete sentences and stay on course under the waves of PTSD. Others among us have suffered stress and hurt or perceived hurt as well and our ship is drifting among long standing toxic systems that existed before we met in March 2009.
Have courage faithful sailors. Discern who is trustworthy and create “circles of trust” among you. Stay on deck offering your gifts. Speak the truth with courage and love to the Empire and do not accept an answer that is not true and healing for all concerned, paid accountable or lay leader or congregant. You are all in the same boat and not every sailor wants to listen, reconcile and heal. Not every sailor has their eyes and hearts opened due to long standing unhealed wounds and fears. Not every sailor is equipped to take the helm and lead through hidden truths into healing ways of being in community. Some will leave the boat because they are wounded by blind eyes to the iceberg and the problems it created. Some will leave because the story is too heavy. Some will leave to find a place of worship where they trust their leadership. Some will jump ship because they didn’t get to fill a power vacuum while others will leave because of those who fill the power vacuum. Squeaky wheels and wounded wheels are listened to and believed much faster than truth bearers. Don’t give up. You are not alone. No minister walks on water but there is someone who does and he says, “Don’t be afraid. It is me.”
Take heed…listen…ask clarifying questions…speak your truth…create circles of trust. Repent, reconcile and repair the ship together and name it AUTHENTICITY AND EMPATHY. If you do, all you will need to do is raise your flag and radically welcome all who enter. And remember, you do not have to be on board with the way everyone does something, says something or believes something in order to be a supportive and compassionate community of sailors. One more thing, have courage to make all pirates walk the plank and don’t blame your new Captain for being human. Encourage them, love them, pray for them, and ask clarifying questions as you hold them accountable. You don’t need a bottle of rum for healthy relationships although sometimes a stiff toast doesn’t hurt! Shalom and Shanti. I love you all.
Opinion: a view or judgement formed about something not necessarily based on fact or knowledge; an estimation of the quality or worth of someone or something.
Opinions created through dusty lenses change the the reality of the seer and the object. Dusty opinions change the quality of life for the seer and the object IF the object puts on the dust. I like what Jesus said to his disciples about dusty opinions: Turn around and leave and shake the dust off your sandals because I have better plans for you.
Now that’s a trustworthy statement, a life giving statement and a Holy direction.
We need to be wise about who we choose as traveling companions because their voices will make us or break us. I am traveling with sojourners who have chosen to follow the ways of Christ. How about you? Got an opinion? Is it clear as mud? Shake it off and look to see who’s walking with you. And by the way, where are you going and do you trust the one who is giving you directions? I think you need to know the heart of the one giving you traveling advice. That’s just my opinion.
Unbeknownst to the world, my two and a half year old grandson and I saved the planet from a massive attack of Zombies and Ghosts. We had on radio head gear and special glasses that allowed us to see the Zombies and Ghosts coming through the walls as they dropped from the sky. Jeremy was the captain of our two person guard and he would speak into his radio headset to me saying, “Ok, what’s the deal?” My reply was always the same, “What’s your plan Sir?”
“Ummmm…I think we need to bomb them with red, green and blue silly putty.”
“Yes Sir. I’ve got your back Sir.”
Then Jeremy would lead me around the corner, signalling for me to follow him. When the Zombies and Ghosts burst through the walls, he turned to me with open hands to hand him the invisible yet potent coloured silly putty. As he took the putty into his hands he said, “One! Two! Three!” And then we bombed the intruders over and over for two hours until Jeremy noticed we were out of putty bombs and it was time to have a snowball fight in the house.
I don’t think the world knows how close we were to complete annihilation that day and how one courageous little boy dared greatly.
As I look back on our tour of duty I wonder how many times a day our Immortal Invisible God saves us from ourselves? I wonder how many times a day we think and move like spiritual Zombies and Ghosts? How does our energy suck the life out of others? When I see a human vacuum coming towards me I find a reason to head to the nearest exit so I can contain my energy for life giving opportunities. I also wondered about a friend of mine who is stuck in her story and has become a ghost of herself and how I miss her and wish she hadn’t missed the joy that was waiting for her outside of her pain.
People who live with resentment become Zombies and Ghosts but they don’t know they are the undead because resentment lies to them and makes them feel powerful and in control of their pain and the person responsible for their pain. The truth is, the resentful soul is the one responsible for their pain and the only way to self-control and joy is through walking the path of forgiveness. Forgiveness brings us to life and saves us from a living death of mistrust through which we view others.
This coming Sunday we will be looking at the path from resentment to forgiveness but before then, I will be gathering more red, green and blue invisible silly putty because the door is still open for imagination.
So as Jeremy says, “OK, what’s the deal?” Regarding staying or becoming a Zombie or Ghost full of resentment, I am asking myself and you, “What’s your plan?”
This morning on my way to work I heard a radio host announce that today is National Sock Day. I thought, “Oh brother, when are we going to have a National Scab Day and a National Hairball Day?” I laughed sarcastically as the announcer said, “Do you ever wonder where socks go after you place them in the dryer and only one out of a pair appears?” He went on to say, “Seriously friends, how does a single sock end up on a sidewalk? I’ve seen them. You’ve seen them. Take a moment today for the sock.” I was expecting the next song would be “All by Myself” but it was “Walk This Way.”
As Mother’s Day approaches, a National Holiday that came into being because mothers were pounding the pavement for peace, I wonder how many of us will take more than a moment to think about our mothers? Many of us have mothers who are deceased while many have mothers who they are unable to see due to distance, finances, work, health, etc. Still, there are the fortunate ones that are able to visit regularly with their mother’s in person and through social media venues. And, lest we forget, there are many who never met their mother or wish they had never met their mother. Mother’s Day is a painful and joyful day around the world, throwing conflicting energy into the universe. Some will place flowers on graves while some will place flowers in hands. Some will cry over an emotionally unavailable mother while others will cry for all the support and encouragement their mothers gave to them over their life time. Some will drink the day away to forget while others will offer a grateful toast.
For some of us, our first glimpse of what God looks and feels like was our mother’s face and arms. For others of us, our first glimpse of mother may have been abandonment or an orphanage. This Mother’s Day, I will be talking about our Mother God who has been with us before we were conceived and will be with us after we leave this realm. This creative mother is soft and firm, playful and wise, a lamb and a lion, a safe place to land and a landing strip from which to fly away. She is a poet, a seamstress, a merchant, a healer, a chef and a guide. Sometimes when she speaks music can be heard and when she thunders, well, all I can say is sometimes mothers, like our Mother God, has every right to tell us to “Put a sock in it.” Unconditional love knows where the sock is, and trust me, that is truly a moment for socks.
Sister Barbara Hance said, “Show me a day when the world wasn’t new.” I have this quote on a card that sits on my desk. (see the picture above)
When I look at this picture I lose myself in the wonder I feel in the little boy’s eyes as he watches the baby bird outside his window. Both creatures have beating hearts, working brains and both are present to a shared moment, expanding their awareness as they wonder about the other.
The past ten weeks I have been engulfed in self care, something ministers are unfortunately very laxed in practicing. Emotional wounds can be life altering and life defying, but if we take the necessary time away to befriend our wounds, the healing process will lead us into wonder and wholeness beyond our natural understanding.
Sitting in silence can be deafening when the heart is broken. As I sat on the sands of Cordova Bay in Victoria, the sounds of the past were silencing the sounds of the waves and I became angry at the voices I was remembering. This process went on for a few days. Silence. Voices. Listening. Anger. Pain. Repeat. Then one day the wind was asleep and the waters were still. I could barely hear the sound of the tide. All was still outside of me and I sat down and decided to join the stillness. As I meditated I thought, “Traci, you are the wind inside of you, not the voices of betrayal, assumption and judgement. You have the freedom to choose what kind of wind, what kind of energy, flows through you. You have the power to control your rising from your ashes.”
I begin to breathe in deeply, expanding my lungs and visualizing creating an expanse inside of me for stillness.
In this expanse, I landed on two verses I remembered from Paul’s letters to the churches in Ephesus and Colossae:
Ephesians2:6-7: “and did raise us up together, and did seat us together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that He might show, in the ages that are coming, the exceeding riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.”
Colossians 3:1: “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.”
The words that caught my attention were, “did raise” and “since then”. I spoke out loud and said, “Traci, enter into what is already yours. Rise. Come back to life.” And then I began to wonder what is the source that empowers our rising? I know the Source is God but what about God? Is it Her love that raises us? Is it His forgiveness that raises us? Or is it God’s grace, God’s wholeness and energy that raises us into new life? And this new life is waiting to be lived now, this new life is not talking about the after life that will be a new way of being. I began to get excited about this reality and then a riptide inside my heart hit me out of nowhere and I spoke out loud again, “But I am hurting. It hurts to breathe. This elephant is heavy.”
And my soul quaked for a while.
It quaked until I was ready to hear, “I’ve got this Traci. I’ve got you. Feel me. Let go and feel me. And when you are sure about me, do what I do for you every day. Be grace and forgive so you have nothing left but love. Let the tide rip you away from what is hurting you. Drown in me and I promise when you do, you will rise to a new life, stronger and gentler than before. Choose what kind of wind you want to blow you away. Choose where you want the wind to carry you and then get up and be there because the reality is you are already there. Show the elephant the door and shut it behind her and throw away the key.”
I took another deep breath.
Then I stood up, and wrote a name on a rock and embraced forgiveness as I let go of the rock and watched it fly away and land in the ocean and in the sea of God’s love.
I share this very personal experience because I love you, my family, my friends, my congregation and those I have yet to meet. I also share this because I will be offering a sermon series on “Embracing Forgiveness” because it’s time for many of us to acknowledge the elephant and say goodbye so we may be present to the beautiful humanity in all of us where the Divine has taken up residence. Since we have already been raised and put together as a body of Christ, it’s time to get ready for the winds of Pentecost where God desires to set us on fire with forgiveness, humility, joy, love and most of all, grace. I invite you to enter into wondering with me. If you are willing, I promise, I’ve got this and God’s got all of us. Let’s be and do something life altering for the good! Let’s defy gravity and embrace forgiveness together. May it be so, amen.
Many have said, (who the many are I don’t know), that standing physically naked in front of another person is the most vulnerable experience one can have. I disagree. Although I do agree this can potentially be a frightening experience for sure, I also believe that engaging in conversation with intention to get to know one’s self and another requires courage, honesty and a deep connection. For me, this is the most vulnerable thing I can do because this is true exposure.
So, where do we get sunblock for being under this kind of light? We receive protection and support by plugging into the Light of the world and richly applying God’s ravenous and unconditional love into our hearts and minds.
In order to engage in evolutionary conversation, we must be willing to engage the hard questions, allowing them to expose what needs attention for our healing into wholeness so we may live in authentic relationship with ourselves, our Creator and others.
To be alive means to exist among constant change inside of us and outside in the world. Being in authentic relationship is being in conversation where sharing our beliefs, thoughts, feelings and experiences creates a flow that births a new awareness, causing us to deeper exploration, shifting our consciousness and spiritual connections into different living forms. Change is constant.
Okay, my current reading of Kant, Nietzsche and Kierkegaard have taken over here so let me pose some further questions:
How can we change the world through conversation?
Do we truly believe that examining the BIG Questions together and sharing core ideas for the highest good of all is possible without our ego’s getting involved?
If we dare to enter into authentic dialogue with another or with a group around cultural and religious differences, bigger questions will make their way into the conversation. Questions like:
Am I being honest with who I really am?
What is my mind and body, (thoughts and emotional and physical feelings), informing me about the condition of my spirit? Why am I thinking and feeling this?
Am I living a congruent life? (Am I living on the outside who I am on the inside?)
What areas in my life need improvement and what skills need sharpening?
Folks, until we take our last breath, we have the opportunity to expand our understanding of ourselves, God and others so we may grow in how we give and receive love, compassion and encouragement. There is never any shame in discovering how to better love, offer our gifts and work with others. Every public or hidden figure – leader in history that initiated change and love in the world remained a hungry student willing to face all shadow and light that lived within.
Engaging in honest conversation with our inner self is a sacred act of vulnerability and exposure. So why would we dare to know, prune and nourish ourselves?
One thing I know for sure is we will not be effective in bringing healing change to the world through conversations that we have not had and resolved within ourselves. As we continue our interfaith dialogue with others, I hope we will remember to be engaged in inner faith dialogue with ourselves so we may be able to be the change we want to see. May it be so. Amen.
Since the inauguration of President of President Trump the energy in social media has been heavy to say the least. I appreciate and understand the call for Clergy to step into their prophetic voices to encourage and empower the church to rise up and speak to the blatant lies and injustice to humanity that are spewing out of the White House. However, I find myself bombarded by the constant stream of tweets, Facebook messages and Facebook posts where integral voices are courageously calling fellow clergy to action. The winds of change are blowing as the shadows that seethed quietly for decades beneath starched collars and backward baseball caps are being exposed in misogynist rhetoric and alternative facts. I have been sitting in the following question that many respected colleagues of diverse faith traditions have posed on social media: “What does it mean to be a Christian?”
“What does it mean to follow the ways of Christ?”
And, “What does living into the ways of Christ look like in our present culture?” Compassion, love, peace, justice, mercy, kindness…yes. But sometimes love says “no” because of love and sometimes justice says “no” and “enough” and sometimes peace marches, lies down, or persistently proclaims what is stopping peace. Sometimes compassion makes the hard call and reveals the shadowy monster living within so one may be healed. Sometimes kindness has to shake the dust off and change her itinerary in order to be effective. And sometimes mercy needs to let another learn a lesson the hard way so they may truly learn and be transformed.
I wonder what Jesus felt like after he was tempted in the desert and then filled with the Holy Spirit who called him to return to a place that had rejected him and preach in the synagogue? When he stood up to read, did he know what scroll the Spirit wanted him to proclaim? As he trusted God and unrolled the scroll to see the words of the Prophet Isaiah did he think, “Oh please, I think something lighter for my first sermon might be better received?”
No. He was grounded in the winds of the Holy Spirit within Him. Grounded in the Breath of God. Hum…
Jesus opened the scroll and read, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me.” Was he afraid to speak this to the Temple Leaders or did he take a deep breath before he spoke out loud, realizing that God was confirming – ordaining Him for ministry?
Whatever Jesus felt, it is obvious that he was aware of who God is and who he was in God as he read the entire passage with confidence that empowered him to sit down when he was done. He did not look around or wait for reactions from the listeners, he simply sat down with all eyes fixed on him.
Jesus read: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
And after he sat down and looked at the eyes fixed upon him, and I am sure a few mouths were wide open, he said, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”
Jesus understood what God had called him to do and be in his ministry and he was completely abandoned – surrendered to God’s on his life no matter what the church or others thought.
I believe I know what it means to be a Christian and I can see clearly why I am the minister of Living Spirit United Church. We are not alone. Release and recovery is on its way. I am grounded and ready.How about you?
“Revolution” The Beatles
You say you want a revolution
Well, you know
We all want to change the world
You tell me that it’s evolution
Well, you know
We all want to change the world
But when you talk about destruction
Don’t you know that you can count me out
Don’t you know it’s gonna be alright
You say you got a real solution
Well, you know
We’d all love to see the plan
You ask me for a contribution
Well, you know
We’re all doing what we can
But if you want money for people with minds that hate
All I can tell you is brother you have to wait
Don’t you know it’s gonna be alright
Alright, alright, al…
You say you’ll change the constitution
Well, you know
We all want to change your head
You tell me it’s the institution
Well, you know
You’d better free your mind instead
But if you go carrying pictures of Chairman Mao
You ain’t going to make it with anyone anyhow
Don’t you know know it’s gonna be alright
We are always called to be active participants in a spiritual revolution from the inside-out…
My blog is simply: Are we willing to say Alright? Are we willing to love God with all of our hearts, minds, bodies and spirits’ and our neighbour as ourselves? Are we willing to do THE something new that speaks to social justice for all those oppressed in every nation under heaven? Jesus did not say, “The Kingdom of God” but “The Kingdom of Heaven” when he taught about what abides within and what we are called to create on our earth. Every human being is living on the same planet under heaven. This is our Maker’s World and we are called to bring All Things Bright and Beautiful to the nasty and ugly truths that the cancerous sounds of silence create among us. May we dare greatly to abandon anything and everything that seeks to stop us from answering the call of the Holy to love one another, even unto death on a cross. May we dare to follow the ways of Christ and use our privilege as revolutionaries for the sake of love, for God loves us ALL at ALL times. May it be so. Alright.
We will all face giants in our lives at one time or another. These giants are problems we face that look and feel surmountable and sometimes it seems like the harder we try to rid our lives of a giant, the stronger the giant becomes. Where do we turn when our strength and resources are running low and a giant is breathing down our necks?
A giant might be a health problem, a financial problem, a hostile workplace, the loss of a job, a prodigal child, an unfaithful spouse, a threat, an addiction, a problem with gossip, a lingering grief, or even a dark night of the soul where our faith and energy have been tested over a sustained period of time and we cannot see a light at the end of the tunnel.
Giants come in many shapes and forms and sometimes the last person on earth we believe would be a wounding giant knocks us off our centres. We will all face a giant or two or three in our lifetime and since this is a reality, we need to make sure we are constantly connected and focused on a greater reality and that is the unfailing love and unchanging character of God.
David’s giant may have been bigger than him and he may have been the World Champion in Fighting Games, but David’s focus wasn’t on Goliath, his focus was on Who God is. How could David dare to not only entertain facing Goliath, but ask Saul to let him face the giant that all of Israel’s Army feared? How? David knew he could face the giant Philistine because he spent every day out in fields with sheep and his Shepherd God, and he knew God by heart. David trusted that God would not allow His/Her name to be defiled and David remembered all the times God had helped him protect his flock of sheep.
As a divine and royal priesthood, we are all called to stand up and speak the truth to any and all giants who threaten the health and life of the church and our relationships. We are all called to be wise shepherds with and type of flock we oversee or belong to and we are to be wise shepherds in all of our relationships. It is never easy standing up to an empire or threat, but it is always possible because God is within us and with us. There will be some political leaders, spiritual leaders, private and public sector leaders who for whatever reason will threaten to censor healing conversations, but take heart and take up the spiritual stones of courage, truth, things worthy of praise, right things, noble things, pure things, lovely and excellent praise worthy things and use these spiritual stones as ear plugs to all or any person or leader who stands in the way of honesty and healing.
The more President Trump censors and intimates the free press and the oppressed, the louder their voices become and the stronger their courage. David may have been a wee little lad but he knew the size of the power of his God. So when we are facing a giant, we will not allow let his or her threats to silence us into doing nothing as this is lower behaviour than that of our giant who is doing something. We need to put one foot in front of the other and open our mouths and let our hearts speak to the problem. And don’t forget we need to take God with us as this is the only armour we are going to need. Always and ultimately, the court we are accountable to and serve is the Kingdom of God which is governed by the Spirit of God.