Romans 8:14-25, Isaiah 6:1-8
Inspire, literally means to take in breath, or to take in spirit. It could describe what happens when we are suddenly in the presence of something surprising, amazing, awe-filled. We may drop to our knees, we may gasp, what we are doing may slip through our hands. We are lost in the moment. Breathing in the spirit in a big gulp, holding that breath, savoring the presence.
Inspiration is also what comes through us by what we have breathed in. Inspiration is all about Holy Spirit, and deserves some consideration during the season of Pentecost.
One of the things about inspiration is that it doesn’t usually happen when we are trying to experience it, when we are putting our effort into conjuring it. The Spirit of inspiration blows where it will. So, to distract us a bit from the precision of words, you have color and paper in your hands today. Everyone take at least one crayon or pastel, at least one piece of paper. I am not going to ask you to draw anything in particular. I always found it intimidating when someone gave me paper and paints and asked me to paint something. My imagination was pretty predictable – houses, trees, flowers. That was about it. Today, just put color on paper. Try different patterns, explosions, or curlicues, or make the paper one solid color. It really is only and exercise in playing with color. Let your eyes play with color without your mind or hand getting in the way too much. If it was paint, and we were not in the sanctuary, I might have us throwing paint at walls of paper. If you want to start then trade papers with your neighbor, feel free. There are no rules here. Just engage with color, and watch your hand make something with color.
And while you do, just let your spirit be open to what Holy Spirit blows through.
My siblings and I used to spend two four-hour shifts a day chopping cotton in the summer time. We relished (and honestly, extended) the shade breaks by the well. It was sandy there, and cool. We had a game we often played. We called it “Doodle.” I don’t know if it’s a real thing or not, but it engaged us. Simple rules – one of us would make a squiggly line in the sand and the person whose turn it was had the task of making that squiggle into something. I would look at that line and let something emerge, a picture would form with a few lines here and a few lines there. You could add, but you couldn’t erase. I can’t remember anything specific. But I remember the feeling of playing that game and the moments where we all stared at the finished creation and didn’t want to brush the sand for the next player.
Dr. Gene Cohen reminds us that “Creativity is built into our species, innate to every one of us…. Each one of us is endowed with the spirit of creativity, whether we recognize it or not.” 
The Rev. Doctor Barbara Holmes offers this about how Holy Spirit inspires:
We are told that Jesus hung out with publicans, tax collectors, and sinners. Perhaps during these sessions of music, laughter, and food fellowship, there were also . . . moments when the love of God and mutual care and concern became the focus of their time together. [Spirit]is not confined to designated and institutional sacred spaces. God breaks into nightclubs and Billie Holiday’s sultry torch songs; God tap dances with Bill Robinson and Savion Glover. And when Coltrane blew his horn, the angels paused to consider…. It may seem as if the mysteries of divine-human reunion erupt in our lives…. On occasion, we turn our attention to this abiding presence and are startled. But it was always there.
The brooding presence of God was there from the beginning. I learned something this week. That word in Genesis 1, about the Spirit “moving” or “brooding” over the waters, can also be translated “relaxing.” The Spirit was relaxing over the waters. Chilling. In fact in today’s lingo it would be “hanging out.” The breath of God was just hanging out over the waters, and something happened. Like what might be happening under your hands as you listen and create. It was like that in the beginning. Just God, breathing, hanging out, and life began to emerge.
One day Isaiah was relaxing in the Temple, or, just going about his everyday duties, perhaps in that unconscious way we do our routines, and God showed up in a vision. It was a bizarre vision of winged creatures, with too many wings, flying around amidst earthquakes, smoke and shaking the Temple. Isaiah could understand them, which is miracle enough! “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty!”
Isaiah had a wonderful imagination! To be able to “see” what it might be like to be in the presence of God. In that moment he let go of his ordinary experience, his priestly duties and his understanding of the Law. He just inspired – took in his breath, God’s breath, and fell to his knees saying, “Woe is me!” This is way too much for me to take in while standing! This may be way too much for me to take in at all! Isaiah had enough imagination to take it in and be changed.
Will we all see God like this? Heavenly beings with too many wings flying around the robe of God? Not likely. But this is what Isaiah’s imagination could allow. This he could let in and somehow understand, or meet.
Ronald Rolheiser says, “God cannot be thought, but God can be met. Through awe and wonder we experience God and there … we understand more by not understanding than by understanding. In that posture we let God be God.” 
There is something about Paul writing in Romans 8 which has always spoken to me. It has been different parts of the writing at different times of my life. But of late, the whole image of all creation “yearning, groaning in labor pain, for the children of God to be revealed” – that captures my imagination! All creation longs with us for the glory of God to be revealed in the children of God on earth!
Recently I read a book called, The Hidden Life of Trees, by Peter Wohlleben, a forester in Germany. I was left with the feeling that Tolkien was not so far off when he created the Ents, the living, breathing, talking, walking trees who saved the Hobbits. Trees do feel. Trees do communicate with each other. Trees help each other. Scientist have demonstrated it. I can suddenly imagine in a whole new way the creation – the trees – groaning in pain as they await the revelation of God’s children as new creators, in love with the creation. As they await the children of God to understand them and have compassion and loving kindness on their existence. I can sense the trees in a new way when I walk the paths of Mt. Tabor. I am changed as I walk among them, sense their yearning, and feel their blessing – giving off good chemicals, just because that is who they are. They bless me.
All creation yearns for us to find our identity in the Creator. To find that part of the image of God in us which gives life, tends carefully, and nurtures each and every living thing which shares the planet, which is itself alive.
Inspiration is not always organized. What sorts of colors to you have in your hands? How many times did you start over to do something new which popped into your head? In these particular few minutes, I have not aimed to give you a logical argument, or to convince to you believe a certain way. You may or may not have been inspired in these words, but perhaps you had that moment when the organ played, or you wait for it as the organ plays you out in a few minutes. Perhaps your inspiration came when you saw the light slanting through the stained glass. Perhaps your inspiration came when you saw the smile on a friend’s face. What inspires you? What causes you to gasp, to take in your breath and hold it in awe of what the moment offers?
Holy Spirit is about inspiration. She is about these soft, undefinable moments, when we know we are in the presence of the divine. And she leaves behind the yearning – to be more, do more, live more, glory more in all things.
If we can’t imagine it, we can’t make it happen. If we can imagine it, we can make it happen. So free up your thinking patterns. Breathe out the systems of “that’s the way things are.” And allow yourselves to see a new creation into being. All creation will thank you. They are waiting on you.
This week I suggest for us the spiritual practice of Visio Divina. There is a handout in the back waiting for you. I know that many of you will go home and forget this suggestion. But where are we if God’s people will not imagine with the Holy Spirit? Try it. Take a picture every day of something which you found beautiful or inspiring. Send it to me and I will post it on Facebook and our bulletin board. It will be a community of visual inspiration. I wonder what it could say to us? I have no idea. What might the Spirit birth in us as we watch and pay attention. Or if you don’t do digital, take a moment every day this week to observe art – in nature, in a museum, in a grocery store. There is art everywhere around us. Take the time to observe and contemplate something which draws you. Then complete your day with a written review of the windows on the Spirit you looked through today. Send these lists or paragraphs and they can become part of our community art.
Let yourself be inspired this week! Be the eyes through which Creator views the world. Loosen your ingrained patterns just enough to be able to imagine the Holy One flying with too many wings, or slanting in the light reaching out between the clouds.
 Cohen, Gene, The Creative Age: Awakening Human Potential in the Second Half of Life, 2001.
Barbara A. Holmes, Joy Unspeakable: Contemplative Practices of the Black Church, second edition (Fortress Press: 2017), 183-185.
 Ronald Rolheiser, The Shattered Lantern: Rediscovering a Felt Presence of God (New York: Crossroad, 2001), 117.