Posts Tagged ‘Holy Spirit’

My father lives in a different world than me.

He lives in Mallorca, Spain and the traditions are different in many ways. I always like to hear of the festivities for different occasions, so I sent an email asking him about Christmastide, and whether they decorate Christmas trees.  I received this long message which I want to pass on to my readers, complete with links and photos.  I am especially amazed by the snowflake lights.  At the bottom of the post you can listen to the song my father refers to in this message, sung by a child.

I hope you all have a meaningful Christmas celebration in honor of the Son of God who came to Earth to save us all.


Sister Olive


Dear Dottir,

In the last decade or so, yes, Christmas trees, Santa Claus, elves and any commercialization possible has taken over.  Even here in this small village, in the little plaza up in town there is a Christmas tree with decorations.

Before this northern invasion, Christmas Eve was celebrated in the church, or quietly in the home, no tree, no gifts just a celebration of the birth and the mother.  Here on Mallorca and in Catalunya, they had another very strange custom. A young child sings the Sybila, a song of the Judgment Day. You can read about it here: 

I have heard it sung many times over the years, because when I directed the church choir we were up in the organ loft, waiting for our turn to sing various Christmas songs from the region.  It is a haunting melody, very difficult for a child to sing, so they practice it for weeks before, no accompaniment of any kind, just that pure “white voice” as they call unchanged voices here. Here it is sung in a little church by a woman:

In the Cathedral of Palma they make a real production of it, with full choir, organ and a young woman singing– these may be beautiful, but I prefer the single child in the Deya church, innocently singing about the end of the world.  Every year a different child is chosen.

Before also, the decorations were basically “nerulas” or white paper cutouts like snowflakes, hung across the nave of the church and in houses.  The streets still are blazoned with lights, as traditionally – I first saw them in Barcelona in 1969 and was amazed. Take a look

As for myself, you know me – Stephanie and I would sometimes walk and look at the world, especially the stars which are exceptionally bright in winter, just appreciating Creation, perhaps lamenting its ultimate passing…

I will be doing that alone this year for sure, and will send my love to you all.  What I see from my balcony is this:

 Poppy's Window View

Where Chopin stayed in 1838 for the winter, so I have good company.

At night it is lit up, blocking the stars until late, when they are turned off.

 Poppy's View at Night

What will you be doing?  Have you found a compatible church where you can enjoy the songs of Christmas?

Lots of love,



Here is the link for the solo sung by a child, my favorite of the versions so far:


The Song of the Sibyl

On the Day of Judgment
The good go to heaven for their services.

An eternal King cometh
Dressed in our mortal flesh
He certainly will come from heaven
To judge the century.

Before the judgment is passed
A great sign will show itself
The sun will lose its shine
The earth will tremble with fear.

Then comes a mighty thunder
The sign of a great anger
In a hellish confusion
Rays and cries resound.

A great fire will fall from the sky
In a stench of sulfur
And the earth will burn furiously
And a great terror afflict people.

Then comes the terrible signal
A major earthquake
The rocks will break
And the mountains will collapse.

Then nobody will have gold pieces
Silver or wealth
And all await sentencing.

Death will leave you penniless
And all collide
Only men remain crying
And sadness will cover the world.

The plains and peaks are all the same
Good and bad will be achieved
Kings, dukes, earls and barons
They will have to account for their actions.

And then comes, unexpected
The son of God Almighty
He will judge the living and the dead
The good go to heaven.

The Unborn
Cry from the wombs of their mothers
And with her cries say
“Help us God Almighty”

Mother of God, pray for us
You, the Mother of All Sins
You have the judgment merciful
You have that paradise is open to us.

You who have heard it all
Pray to God with devotion
With all your heart and fervor
That should save us.


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The more I think about the film Diary of a Country Priest the more amazed I am about the little spiritual principles that popped up throughout the film, many of them that I had not considered before. Here are a few examples:

A cold heart is a sin.  In one scene the priest ministers to a countess who has suffered tremendous loss and injustice in her life. She has developed an icy heart towards everyone because she is trying to protect herself from more pain. She keeps telling the young priest that she has done nothing wrong, but he points out that her hardness of heart is a sin because it grows out of bitterness and prevents her from being sensitive to others. We must allow our hearts to be broken for the sake of others who may need us. It is impossible to serve God or people with a cold heart.

We can channel God’s strength to others in our weakest moments. In one scene in the film, the priest blesses a woman and she makes her peace with God, while the priest admits in his journals he has no peace within himself at the time. He is amazed that he can  “give to others the very thing he does not possess.” This is a great mystery of faith, that we can channel the strength of God for others even during our weakest moments. I am thankful for this, because if we relied on our own strength, many people would have been left without hope when they needed it most.

The intent to pray is a prayer in itself.  The young priest finds at times that he cannot pray at all, but God knows he intends to and grants his requests anyway. This one I had heard before from an elderly deacon who told me God could honor the prayer we forgot to pray after we promised someone we would, and He could even go back in time and grant the request retroactively! This comes in handy when someone asked you to pray about their surgery yesterday, and you forget until tomorrow. He knows my intent and that I am going to remember tomorrow, and He controls time and space, so why is that so surprising?

It’s all grace anyway. While living in a little village, the priest suffers spiritually, mentally, and physically and often feels that his work is more than he can possibly handle. But he realizes that it’s all God’s grace anyway, and that He works through our frailties to bless others. The Spirit is willing even when the flesh is weak.

Peace be with you,

Olive Twist




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From “The Iris Diaries”


Based on a true story

Bell Tower at Furman University, Greenville, S...

A friend of Iris named Christian went on a trip with his family to Greenville, South Carolina.  When he came back, he told Iris he felt like he was in heaven while he was there, that it was a beautiful town built around a river, and the Spirit ministered to him in a powerful way.  He attended a church that affected him deeply, and he said that he was hearing the voice of the Spirit in a way that he never had in the past. 

Christian talked about one day that he was with his sister and they crossed a stone bridge near the river with hills all around, and suddenly he heard what sounded like harp music.  He paused and looked around and spied a little girl with long golden hair playing a harp beside the river.  Christian turned to his sister and said, “Am I in heaven or what?” 

          After hearing him describe Greenville, Iris reminded him about their previous conversation, “Green seems to be the color right now.  You said before that you dreamt of angels that seemed to be cut out of green emeralds, and you had a green afterglow in your eyes all night. 

“And I have had two vivid dreams recently: one of a green wheel with mysterious inscriptions on it, and another of a green tree that was peaceful and lush and fragrant as I would imagine the tree of life to be.”

          Christian replied, “Well, I guess green is the color of life.”

          “Yes” said Iris, “and the color of healing.”

Soon after their conversation, Iris decided to visit some troubled young men at a nearby detention center.  When she arrived and turned in her car keys at the front desk, she saw a lady coming down the hallway to lead her to the dormitories.  She recognized her from church, though she had never formally met her.  The woman was wearing a green dress, and Iris asked her what her name was.  “Miss Green,” she said, shaking Iris’s hand and smiling.  As they walked toward the dorms, Iris peered into a classroom and saw a huge poster of a glorious green tree, which looked like the one in her dreams!  Iris knew then that God was close by her and that she would be fruitful in her labors.

          She felt the Spirit as she ministered to the youth during their conversations and prayers, and several of the young men said they could feel God’s presence in the room. 

“Are you a missionary?” one of them asked Iris.  She laughed, and said, “Well, I’ve been told that I am by different people, so I suppose so.” 


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(From “The Iris Letters”)

Dear Saviour,

You have been on my mind a lot these days, especially since people think it’s cool to mock you and many seem to be walking away from you.  They have plenty of intellectual reasons that sound well thought out and logical, such as the fact that Your Father’s House is still a den of thieves, and Christians can be so hateful and judgmental.  I agree with most of their complaints, but have they forgotten about you, and all of your indiscriminate love and terrible suffering?

One fellow has a website with all of his reasons why he left you.  He writes that you never answered his prayers and didn’t make his life any better, and that it takes so much pressure off of him when he doesn’t have to convert anyone. He says he finds it so much easier to make friends if he doesn’t mention you.  He says he feels as if his whole walk of faith had been a criticism of other people and a source of tension.  I have read his “musings” which he should call “rantings” instead.

You haven’t made me rich or successful, and my family and friends have never understood the way I feel about you.  Even in Your own house, people don’t seem to care much about you or each other.  My life has always been a struggle and I have lots of issues, but I just can’t imagine life without you.  You are so beautiful to me, and I have adored you for most of my life.  I cannot give you up, no matter what anyone says.

I am beginning to understand how you felt when your friends all deserted you, and what it feels like to be alone and misunderstood.  But to experience your presence for even a moment makes it all worth it. When people complain about all of the problems with religion, I always ask them what they see wrong with you.  They can never give me an answer. I promised my heart to you one day many years ago, and I don’t care if no one understands what I see in you.

Even if you don’t give me the things I want and I don’t deserve you, and my friends and family don’t understand, I am so happy that you are mine and I am yours.  That is all that matters to me.



Love ? I love love love you.

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(From EvangeLegends)

A young college student sat alone in his study and his eyes scanned a globe, when suddenly one little spot on it seemed to light up. He touched it with the tip of his finger. The Spirit told him to go to that place, a remote jungle in South America, to share the Gospel with whoever lived there.  The leading was so clear and certain, that he decided to depart right away.

His parents and friends were terrified about his safety, and tried to persuade him not to go. He only had enough money for a one-way ticket, but he was not concerned.  He packed a small backpack with a few food items and articles of clothing, and bought a plane ticket to the airport nearest to the spot where God told him to go.

When he arrived at the lonely airport and stepped off the plane, he was still a good distance from the spot where he had been told to go.  So he set out walking into the jungle in the middle of nowhere, by himself. After walking for several hours, he became very tired and hungry.  He reached into his backpack for a can of tuna fish he had packed, and he realized that he had not remembered to bring a can opener.  So he picked up various rocks, and tried to use them to open the can.  Nothing seemed to work, but he kept trying.  All he could do was to crush the can, so that the oily liquid from the tuna leaked out.  He drank the juice in discouragement, and continued on his journey.  Soon thereafter, his stomach became very upset and he felt like he might need to vomit.

Just then, a group of small men came running through the trees, and surrounded him.  Their bows and arrows were drawn tight and ready to shoot.  The young man did not know that it was the custom for the eldest member of the tribe to shoot first.  All of the younger men looked at the oldest man, as if waiting for him.  The old man said something in their language, looked at the others disapprovingly, and would not shoot.

The young missionary learned later that the tribe also did not believe in harming anyone who was already ill.  The oldest member of the tribe had told the others in their language “He looks sick to me.” God had made the student forget the can opener and had used that can of tuna to save his life. He otherwise would have been killed by the tribe he sought to minister to.

The natives took him back to their village to help him get well, and they all became very fond of him.  He learned their language and customs, and taught them about Jesus.  The entire tribe eagerly received and believed the Gospel message, and the Word spread throughout the region.

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“A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench: he shall bring forth judgment unto truth.” Isaiah 42:3

I first saw and heard Elder Thomas at the district services.  He was hosting a Friday night Missions service, and I had never met him before.  He stepped up to the pulpit, a dignified and well-dressed man looking over his glasses at the congregation.  Because I thought his voice to be somewhat gruff, I thought that he must be stern and irritable, and that he was someone I would not want to annoy or make angry, because he wouldn’t put up with very much.  It is funny how we perceive people at first observance.

The second time I saw Elder Thomas was at a pastor appreciation service, and suddenly he ran down from the pulpit area to the front of the altar, where he began to dance in the spirit.  My whole conception was thus thrown out the window.

The third time I saw him, he was again at a district service, and he opened the service by saying, “You’re in the Holy Ghost headquarters now.”  I laughed when he said it, and my two guests also laughed about that.  I knew then that I really liked this man, and that I needed to hear him preach.

Soon thereafter, I visited a Sunday service at his church for the first time with my son. That Sunday, Elder Thomas preached from Ecclesiastes 12, and it was one of the most enjoyable and concise teachings I had ever heard.  Not only did Elder Thomas have a gift of teaching with great clarity, but he could make people laugh and enjoy the studying of it.  Whenever I cast a sidelong glance at my son, he was smiling a broad smile or laughing.

I don’t know quite where to begin to describe the incredible giftedness of Elder  Thomas.  He is remarkable in so many ways.  He says that when he was a young boy, he knew a great evangelist in the area named Mother Benjamin, and that he sought for God to give him a portion of the Spirit that was upon her.  He says it was quite difficult even as a young man to keep up with this tireless woman.  But, like Elisha who refused to leave Elijah, he followed her to the best of his ability until she left this world.

Elder Thomas is a gifted preacher, prophet, servant, shepherd, and prayer warrior.  He has a huge heart of compassion for the lost and suffering, and has a word from the Father of Lights for every occasion and every need.  He knows how to guide God’s flock to higher and deeper faith, and to their own personal callings from the Spirit.  I have seen people line up at the altar to receive “the Word of the Lord” from his lips, and I have seen God use him as a mighty instrument of mercy.

He has truly touched my life by his earnestness about the things of God, and his desire to see his people grow, and not wax cold and stagnant.  He knows how to encourage and how to correct, and with such skill and wisdom that only God could give.

(For more portraits like this, visit the page or category entitled “A Cloud of Witnesses”)

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I came across these lovely quotes while reading Twice-Told Tales today, and they really spoke to me:

 The mother’s character, on the other hand, had a strain of poetry in it, a trait of unworldly beauty- a delicate and dewy flower, as it were, that had survived out of her imaginative youth, and still kept itself alive amid the dusty realities of matrimony and motherhood.

…for all through her life she had kept her heart full of childlike simplicity and faith, which was as pure and clear as crystal; and, looking at all matters through this transparent medium, she sometimes saw truths so profound, that other people laughed at them as nonsense and absurdity.

From “The Snow-Image”

English: Twice-Told Tales by Hawthorne. Printe...

(For more of Olive’s favorites, click on the “QUOTES” page or category- look above or in the sidebar)

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