A wide shot of empty pews against a wall of stained glass windows in Trinity Church Wall Street
Photo: Colin Winterbottom

On Finding the Spirit in the Unexpected

For better or worse, those of us who spend a lot of our time planning ahead — whether for work or for family, or because that is our nature — live much of our lives by our personal expectations and in trying to meet those of others.

Very few adults can avoid this completely. I also know that expectations play a large role in childhood and parenthood, also for better and worse. The worse parts for me are that it’s harder to dwell in the present and occasional disappointment and readjustment are inevitable.

In John’s familiar but sometimes arcane Gospel, Jesus tried to prepare the disciples for what to expect upon his departure, his return, and from the Holy Spirit. And like almost all expectations, what came to pass was not exactly what was expected. That may be why the various testimonies and references to Christ’s ascension and what followed were not uniform, and why ideological trajectories took so many different turns in the subsequent two millennia. 

I recently received an old copy of The Other Wise Man which had belonged to my father and was found among the belongings of my aunt who died this year. It’s a lovely and poetic short story, and I wondered a lot if my dad and aunt related to the protagonist’s calling and quest, which was (spoiler alert) not at all what he expected. 

Could it be for all of us that the Holy Spirit is in the obstacles on our pilgrimage to God, if only we can embrace them?    

Kathryn Carroll 

Kathryn Carroll is Program Manager for Children and Family Formation at Trinity Church Wall Street. Share your thoughts or questions with Kathryn, and join her Sundays at 10am for Children’s Time.

Children’s Time 

Sundays at 10am | Online

Children and their families are invited to learn together Sunday mornings. We’ll begin with an opening assembly, including a prayer and a song, then break into small groups for a time of exploration and community.

Godly Play (Preschool and older) — An interactive storytelling circle of wonder, faith, and play, followed by hands-on activity and sharing.
Story: Knowing Jesus in a New Way
Response Time: Drawing, coloring, and collage materials

Whole People of God (2nd Grade and older) — An interactive multimedia exploration on the week's liturgical themes with hands-on arts activities and sharing.
Lesson: Great Expectations sharing
Activity: Wind power

Register to join.

This meeting opens early at 9:10am for the Family Service Watch Party — join us! If you are already registered for Children’s Time, we will meet on the same Zoom link. No need to register again.

Discovery: Evicted in the American City

Sundays at 10am | Online

Join the Discovery community for the final gathering in our Easteride series. We’ll have a roundtable conversation on how our learning connects to our Christian vocation and how can we take personal action.

Over these six weeks, our learning and reflection is centering on Matthew Desmond’s Pulitzer Prize-winning book, Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City. In his book, Desmond follows eight families in Milwaukee as they each struggle to keep a roof over their heads. He transforms our understanding of poverty and economic exploitation while providing fresh ideas for solving one of 21st-century America’s most devastating problems. The scenes of hope and loss remind us of the centrality of home, without which nothing else is possible. Learn more about Desmond’s work.

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Spiritual Resources