Waiting: How my pocket knife taught me about the Holy Spirit

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May 22, 2013 by James Carrano

During the summer when I was 9 or 10 I really wanted a pocket knife. I asked my dad and he said he would think about it.

I hated it when he used to say that. I waited…and waited. I dreamed of all of the cool things I could do with it. Making arrows, carving my name into things, whittling. It was going to be great if I ever got the darn thing.

Eventually I went to my mom because I was afraid to re-ask my dad. That was a mistake…just led to more waiting.

I started leaving my dad cryptic notes about pocket knives. More dreaming and, you guessed it, more waiting.

My longing for this simple, little thing was intense. I don’t remember wanting anything in my childhood as much as that knife.

I don’t know how the apostles felt after Jesus ascended but I think I experienced the kid version that summer. When you are waiting for something, it becomes consuming. At times I was certain that I would never get a knife.

I would bet that at times the apostles felt the same, that whatever they were waiting for would never come. They must have wanted to give up and leave Jerusalem.

What did Jesus say though? “And, behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you; but stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”

Ah, the promises…at least they got a promise! I got a “I’ll think about it.” I’d have taken a “stay here (wait) until I give it to you” any day!

A little ridiculous, I know, but seriously! They got a promise from a guy who LITERALLY CAME BACK TO LIFE!

Let’s get back to the ’80’s when I was 9 and waiting for an instrument of power…I walked into my room one day without a thought on my mind about the knife. There it was just sitting on my desk as if it had always been there. It was wrapped in one of the notes I had given my father. If that note wasn’t there, I am not sure I would have assumed it was from my father! He had written nothing on that note. No warnings, no “come talk to me about how to use this,” nothing: just the knife.

What joy and excitement I had that day! I did what true gratitude does with a gift: I used it! Constantly. The waiting was over. Arrows needed to be made, sticks needed to be whittled! My dad finally sharpened the thing when he realized I was serious about using this knife.

I loved that knife. I still have it. It represents many things to me: the generosity of my father; the nurturing of my mother (who didn’t want me to have it!); the need for persistence when you see something you want. I learned how essential detachment is. But, above all, I learned wonder and awe, praise and gratitude.

Pentecost. What a name for a day! It’s loaded! The name is supposed to mean something. In Jewish culture it was the name given to the day that ended the season of Passover and was a day set apart. It was the day that was most different of all the days in their calendar. A day of resting and refraining from the normal day to day life.

For Christians, it is supposed to mean more than just the day the Holy Spirit came down and the Church was born. It’s the day that everything REALLY changed for the disciples. Sure, they were present with the resurrected Jesus. That changed their doubting hearts about God and His plans and promises. But Pentecost changed their lives! The Church was born because those individual lives were changed.

I imagine that the apostles learned many things that day. I bet wonder and awe, praise and gratitude were among the top of the list. This is what we, too, are supposed to learn and recognize when the Holy Spirit, the promise of the Father, is sent to us.

St. Paul said to the people in Colossae: “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly…and sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” This happened at Pentecost. It happened for me when I was boy holding my new knife. Sure, it was a smaller version, but I learned how to sing songs with thankfulness in my heart that day!

The real question is, why can’t I make room for Christ like this every day? Or any day!? Why don’t I allow the Holy Spirit to dwell in me richly? What keeps me from letting this happen? God knows I need it! I think I am being fair when I say WE need it!

I know when I allow the word of Christ, the Holy Spirit, to dwell in me richly the psalms, hymns and songs simply come pouring forth without effort! They come singing from the depths of my being and I know what it means to be thankful again.

I learned a valuable lesson that day. I am guessing, hoping really, that you have had days like mine where your heart leapt and sang.

Remember those days. God uses those memories to remind you of something you learned as a child about the Holy Spirit: the promises are true! He is real and He really wants our lives to be different, changed forever and forever changing!

I sit here wishing I could tell you what to do next but I can’t. I don’t know what you should do next. In a sense, that’s the beauty of it all. The plan is hidden and will be revealed as we start moving with it.

My advice; stop waiting. We already have the Holy Spirit dwelling within us through our baptism and confirmation! We just need to start whittling away with and through Him! Arrows need making to pierce the hearts with Jesus’ love! Whatever is not of God needs carving from our hearts so the light of Christ shines through our lives! People desperately need the Holy Spirit’s gifts you have.

Stop waiting, start living!

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One thought on “Waiting: How my pocket knife taught me about the Holy Spirit

  1. Cool story, thanks for sharing. I recently learned a valuable lesson just like this. Sometimes the Holy Spirit visits us at the most unexpected times and reminds us of why we have faith.

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