A friend is pregnant. Within its tradition - Sikhism - the 120th day of pregnancy. According to the belief, the soul of the child then enters the body. For the party, about 35 people were gathered in the living room of the community where she lives. About half of them in full robes and turban. Others, especially family, sat further back in chairs, clearly not Sikhs. Curious, a bit unsure of what was to come, we listened to a pastor who relaxed explained that meditative songs would be sung with guitar accompaniment. 'I am one with the heart of the mother, I am one with the heart of love, I am one with the heart of the father, I am one with God'. Cheerful, calm and with many repetitions, similar to the music style of Taizé youth celebrations. I was reminded of the Sunday school of the past. The Sikh party reminded me of a sense of an intuitive confidence: being able to say 'yes' to life. And that every child needs to be received with it. It was an experience to be invited to this party: to 'welcome a soul'.
On the same evening, philosopher Gerard Visser spoke about the same soul at the Ekklesia: because we have a rock-solid faith in natural science in our society, we no longer know what to do with the soul. Because: 'what exactly would the soul be: does not everything consist of chemical brain processes?' We can't imagine anything about it. Yet. Gerard Visser explained that with only natural science we miss something. We still know expressions that indicate this. Walking with the soul under your arm. Or: "I have been stepped on my soul." Then I am so hurt that I cannot even be angry: I have reached the heart of my being. Or more positively: "my soul is singing." Although you cannot put your finger on it exactly, we feel that 'the soul' is essential. If you miss 'inspiration', there is no 'life' in it.
These two events, both talking about the soul, taught me what we celebrate at Pentecost in Christian tradition. While the meaning of Christmas and - to a lesser extent - Easter is clear to many people, Pentecost is unclear to many. Perhaps that is because of the elusiveness of the soul. Pentecost. The feast of 'inspiration'. The feast that celebrates the continuation of the 'life' of Jesus in us. And that we live it on, together with other people from all backgrounds.
You cannot create inspiration. You can, however, find what inspires you. It's a matter of opening up. In one evening I heard two talk in very different ways about 'inspiration'. A group of Sikhs who use meditative music as a reminder to celebrate life. And Gerard Visser who, based on philosophy, creates space for humanity in our society. I notice that the other in her or his own way says yes to life and to the Giver of that life. And I rediscover that 'yes' in my own tradition of faith.
Is that the experience of those people from all those different places on Pentecost morning when Peter's speech opened their hearts? Christianity has always been the inclusive religion: the religion that doesn't care much about borders. It touches me in Pentecost that you find the connection with others, other traditions and movements. To find recognition of inspiration in the other. Where the critical element is discussed more in the prophets, Pentecost stands for openness and the recognition of inspiration.