Wind. Over the years I have had some powerful experiences of wind. The past few days have been ones where wind has been a nearly constant companion. For the Thanksgiving holiday we are staying in a house on Whidbey Island, Washington as we gather our now far-flung sons together in a family gathering. The waters of Puget Sound are steps away from our view of the world dotted with boats and wood and rock. We find ourselves situated on a peninsula with water on each side of the road and houses. Perhaps it is because of this configuration that the experience of wind has been so profound.
On our first night here I was awakened by the rush of the wind as it made circles around the house. Safe under the covers, I listened as the wind’s voice spoke its words first to the tip of my head and then made its way along walls and the length of my body, growing softer as it moved its circuitous path around and around the house, arriving again at the top of my head. Whoosh…..whoosh…whoosh….the wind became visible to me. The sound was so powerful and strong I got up and went into the living room where I could keep my eye on the crashing waves spewing water and anything else that found itself housed in the salty brine onto the beach.
Sitting quietly in a chair, I began to remember the other places where wind had been such a full bodied experience. While I have known the force of wind on the North Shores of Minnesota and the rocky paths of the Irish coast, my fullest experience of the circling of wind was in the Abbey Church on the island of Iona, Scotland. Having arrived late in the day on this holy island that has welcomed pilgrims for hundreds of years, we made our way in the dark to the 9:00 p.m. service of prayer. Sitting in pews with people from all over the world, we sang and read and prayed beautiful words created by gifted writers and liturgists. But it was the wind that brought the real message of the evening. Round and round the building it rushed. You could hear the very pattern of its flight. Eyes met eyes and we all knew in some unspoken way that the movement of the Spirit was present.
This circling presence is what has been holding me and reminding me of that powerful night that still niggles at my heart. I would like to believe that one does not need to be on an island to have such a fullness. But as is almost always true in the spiritual life, our experiences are both real and metaphor for something larger, something wiser. Sometimes when we feel most an island, alone and cut off, the Spirit shows up to whirl around and remind us of its eternal presence. When that island of self feels most unmoored, the power of Spirit creates a nest of wind so powerful that we cannot ignore its place in our lives. Round and round it moves carrying its wisdom and strength. Round and round its force becomes a connection that will not let go. Round and round this Breath which breathed us all into being speaks.
This morning the wind is much calmer and the waters out the window are flowing with a greater gentleness. The sea birds are flying in a lazier, easier fashion as they search for breakfast. Logs swim along, guests from the north that will arrive on the beach to offer the makings of forts and caves for creative souls. The horizon is open except for the far off glimpse of mountains. Of course, the wind is still moving, the Spirit’s presence still flows but its voice, circling is less visible, subtler. And so it goes and always will.
But sometimes, sometimes, we need a wake up call…..like the rushing winds of Pentecost. Circling. Circling. Circling. And may we each find those moments whether on island or street corner, whether in the solace of sanctuary or the details of the every day.
So be it.