Thursday, June 01, 2017

Reflections on the Feast of Pentecost, Year A: Like the Rush of a Violent Wind

In our backyard we have a shed with a cupola on top. Atop the cupola is a weathervane that actually works like a weathervane. A rooster perches on top of an arrow that turns freely to face into the prevailing breeze; and a simple compass sits at the base, letting us know from what direction the wind is coming. Now that the gardening season is going in earnest, I find myself looking up as we go out in the mornings to do our chores. Just which way that rooster is facing actually, truly affects what we are going to experience of a given day.

In the spring, the breeze usually comes from the South. Warm air, heavy at times with moisture, works its way seaward from the inner reaches of the Delaware River valley. If the wind shifts a little further into the Western quarter, then we will get more of the weather that comes from the Alleghenies, and from the regions of the Great Lakes. In the summer, the wind usually blows hot and dry from the West because the Jet-stream is pulling hot air up from the Southern Plains. In the Fall, the wind shifts again to a few points further North. Cold air from the Canadian Rockies works its way down and the days cool. Then, in winter, the harder chill settles in, and the wind carries snow and freezing rain as well as the hard kiss of the morning frosts.

The winds also carry storms to us, rain and hail, lightning and gusts of air strong enough to stagger you and bend, or even break, branches from trees. Because we live on the coast, we also face the annual threat of hurricane season. Will there me major, named storms? How, when and where might they make landfall? It isn't a question of whether or not there will be major storms in our lives, but rather how many...and how much damage they will do.

And then, there are days with no wind, when we are becalmed. It is as if time itself hangs still and quiet around us. In the spring, it means respite from blowing pollen. In the summer, it can mean breathless heat. In the winter, it means a dry cold that braces the body even as skin tingles with the cold.

All of those stories are told when I look up to see where our wrought-iron rooster is facing, or where he is turning as the wind shifts its quarter. That wind carries stories, lets us know how the day will be and what we might expect.

And yet, the wind is invisible to us. Air moving and shifting, having profound impact on us...and we never see it. We only experience the evidence of its passing.

As we approach the Feast of Pentecost, we remember and ponder the wind. Often, the Holy Spirit is expressed as an experience of the evidence of God's passing through our midst...and its depiction in scripture in the Acts of the Apostles enforces that sensation. First, as the disciples wait on the arrival of the Counselor and Comforter promised by Jesus before his Ascension, comes something like the sound of a rushing, violent wind. Then, tongues of fire, whipped by air, alight on them. Finally, from them comes breath and voice, praising God in every language. This moment is hailed as the birth of the Church.

With the person of the Holy Spirit, we find in God an active and present relationship working in and amongst us TODAY. It is in this moment that God is inspiring and provoking the Church to deeper and more profound acts of devotion, service and witness. It is NOW that we are seeing how the holy wind from God is affecting our daily walk in the world.

Even as that rooster tells me how the weather will affect our day at 96 Darrow, the Holy Spirit is showing us how our days will go as we seek to love and serve our neighbors, seeing Christ in them as they experience Christ revealed in us.

So, ask yourself....from what quarter is that holy wind coming to me? Where and to what is it directing you today!?!

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