Who has seen the wind?
Neither I nor you:
But when the leaves hang trembling,
The wind is passing through.
Who has seen the wind?
Neither you nor I:
But when the trees bow down their heads,
The wind is passing by.
It’s a quiet evening. Leaves are barely moving on the trees which means it might be a reasonably quiet night. Last night it was a bit different. The winds picked up and moved quite fiercely, causing branches to rub against the siding of the house and make the blowing dust hit against the exterior wall like Mentos dropped into a Coca-Cola. It comes up, and it goes away. With last night’s dust storm, we got some much-needed rain following the wind. That happens quite often here in the desert and is as welcome as the rain is, although the wind that precedes it and sometimes accompanies it can be a bit unnerving.
As I lay in bed, I thought about what I was hearing. I was pondering whether the wind is visible, or do we only see the results of it? We know the wind and/or its effect on the shaking of leaves as in Christina Rosetti’s poem, and we can also see one, the other, or both in a tornado as it swirls and destroys. We hear the wind howling, but is that the wind itself or is the wind blowing through or against something that makes sound? However it goes, the wind, like many forces of nature, can’t be controlled, summoned, or dismissed.
Last night I also thought about that verse from John 3:8, “The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes.” The Spirit has been described as a wind like the gust that blew through the congregation on Pentecost and endowing those present with the gift of tongues which enabled them to speak to those whose language was not Aramaic or perhaps Latin or Hebrew. The Spirit, like the wind, can’t always be summoned, controlled, or dismissed. As a member of the Trinity, it is God made manifest in ways that often can’t be seen but only felt and experienced.
We frequently say that the Spirit calls us to tasks and missions that perhaps we previously had not thought about much less considered. The call is significant to Christians. It is, in a way, the stamp of approval of God upon an individual or even a group. Sometimes the Spirit seems to choose the most unlikely persons or groups, but yet to those who experience it, is a genuine thing, and something which changes them much as the angel on the road to Damascus turned the man who persecuted Christians into the most influential person in the early church.
One thing that struck me is that we can’t always see the Spirit working on and in a person. Sometimes we may judge that a person doesn’t measure up to what we may consider a measuring stick of a Spirit-filled life. Perhaps the Spirit uses different criteria for judgment, and it is our hubris that makes us question that person’s qualification. Like the wind, the Spirit goes where and to whom she wills.
The wind is not always a gentle thing, particularly in cases of natural disasters like cyclones, hurricanes, typhoons, and the like. Neither is the Spirit always a soft, guiding and sustaining image that we often consider.
We learn in church that the Spirit, the third person of the Trinity, or the third persona of that group, is equal to but not the same as God or Jesus. Together they form God, the Holy Trinity, although we often consider them, like Rublev’s famous icon, to be three individuals sitting down together at a round table. The Spirit is frequently portrayed as a dove and is probably the least understood, yet an essential part of what we call God. The Spirit does come among us, speaking to some, choosing some, and guiding many. Sometimes I think some of the best ideas are inspired by the Spirit, whether or not the person to whom the idea comes is aware of it or not. Like the wind, it’s something that can be felt or experienced but not seen and seldom heard.
Tonight may be a quiet night, but later, when the sun goes down, and the air grows cooler, it may pick up and once again make itself known by the movement of the branches, twigs, and leaves. We will know when it is here, and when it leaves. I think with the Spirit, it’s probably best for me to assume that the Spirit is always present in one way or another, and for me to be constantly aware of that presence, whether or not I feel a gentle breeze against my cheek or my house shakes with the force of it.
How do you experience the Spirit? Is a gentle breeze, an angry twisting form, or something that moves the waves on the ocean, whether ripples or giant waves?
This week I will work on sensing the Spirit, however she may manifest herself. I invite you to do the same.
Image: The wind, depicted by a fir tree at Lake Ivacs, Veresegyház, Author: HoremWeb. Found at Wikimedia Commons.
Linda Ryan is a co-mentor for an Education for Ministry group, an avid reader, lover of Baroque and Renaissance music, and retired. She keeps the blog Jericho’s Daughter. She is owned by Dominic, Gandhi, and Phoebe, who keep her busy and frequently highly amused.