Psalms 2:1-3, 4-6, 7-9
I completed my PhD at the University of Chicago, named for the city that is purported to be “windy.” Whoever came up with that epithet for Chicago probably had never given equal time to Omaha. That person certainly was not in Omaha last Saturday, a day so remarkably windy that one of the locals intoned that it had been at least a solid year since there had been a day quite as windy.
I literally awoke to the roar of the wind. It is now just about spring and the evening before was rather warm (comparatively speaking). Thus I spent my first night in a long time sleeping in an urban semblance of the “great outdoors” brought inside through my opening all my windows. As I slowly came to consciousness, the trees were sighing and then moaning and finally wailing. The house literally shook at times and as I looked out at the clouds against the blue sky it was as though they were in a race each with the others.
Later in the day I walked with a friend in the fierce wind being variously pushed and pulled, gasping for air and being invigorated by the sound and the very feel of the wind. We bent into the wind for part of our journey, our legs pumping against its force, and then we were pushed and sometimes shoved along our way on the return trip. It was most remarkable.
The next day I saw in the local paper a photograph of a church steeple broken in half. There were other articles on the destructiveness of the winds, too. I seemed to have missed that side of the wind the day it blew through.
So in the Gospel today Jesus tells us about the Spirit, no easy task. Rather than launch into theology, Jesus borrows from Nature. A friend told me he once asked his college class what a metaphor was and a student replied: “I don’t know what one is but I can tell you want one is like!” Jesus tells of the Spirit by telling us of the wind.
So we are begotten of the Spirit through the waters of baptism, through the oils of confirmation, through the life of the Church and the very life we share with each other and with the community.
Wind is mysterious, strong, cleansing, and at times frightening and unpredictable. Those who most depend on wind, sailors, must be people of wisdom and judgment. Even more they must be people of faith and trust for without the wind there is no progress and even in the adversity of storm there is growth and new life. Sailors must be people of discernment, like us Christians, finding the life-giving winds and avoiding and sometimes weathering the destructive ones.
I was rather naïve about the wind that blustery Saturday. What struck me more than the destructive power of the wind was the reconstructive power of the human spirit. Living in the land of tornadoes one realizes the incredible force and power of nature. In adversity one even more powerfully realizes the incredible power of love, compassion and the Spirit whose wind is redemptive, life-giving and transformative
In Easter we celebrate the triumph of Christ’s resurrection, He who tramples down sin and death and rises to new life. We have all seen and experienced the destructive forces of evil but, like a violent wind or a tornado, evil cannot triumph definitively. Soon, on Pentecost, we will celebrate the birth of the Church, born in a Holy rush of wind and fire—the gently cleansing and purifying force of the Spirit. The first reading reminds us that the disciples underwent adversity of arrest and reproof. Yet they were filled with confidence. We need only open a daily paper or look into our own lives to see that adversity and suffering remain part of the world. Easter invites us, too, to be filled with this same confidence.
We need to each day open our hearts to the breath of the Holy Spirit,
a life-giving wind more powerful than even the blasts of an early spring
day off of the prairies of Nebraska. True, suffering and adversity
and ill breezes may make us fearful, may discourage or disorient us, or
even set us back a bit, but this very season of Life invites us to continue
to walk confidently in the Holy Wind, to feel it hold us up, challenge
us and even push us forward to New Life.
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