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Seeing immediate distraction beckoning from the long porch ahead, I reach for the rail – then lose myself in a Wonderland of continuous motion. Here, glass and metal sculptures, rain chains, rocking chairs and wooden swings all move in answer to the winds crossing the bay. Translucent sea glass strung with bits of driftwood, colored wind chimes, copper crafted pine cones, spinning orbs, revolving crescents, and bobbing yard art sway and turn and dip around me on all sides. . . and I haven’t even stepped inside yet to see the art within the store.
Amidst that festive celebration, I pause and realize the sound and movement are just evidence of wind. Always arriving and departing, it ceases to exist unless it’s moving. The swirling jet streams circling earth, the transfer of layers of warm and cold air within an atmosphere that sustains itself in its protective envelope around us, all bespeak an order greater than that under our control.
Even our thoughts, the essence of being, are carried in the air to give them voice that reaches across distance into lives and worlds beyond our own. The small simplicities of spoken greetings: “Hello,” “Hi,” are no less than miracles of idea, will, synapse, muscle – and the elusive wind of breath.
Just like the wind, it is in the process of its spending that breathing is made manifest. With each exhaled breath we remain in continuous need to be refilled. As living beings, we are complex constant systems of exchange; whole conduits for nutrition, respiration, elimination, growth, and healing/replacement. And every moment of our living is filled with elements of those exchanges that are simultaneously spent and lost.
Like wind, life passes through us in our sequenced opportunities to grow into the selves we have the will, capacity, and circumstances to become. As beings so inexplicably made, we each embark to search for our: identity, beliefs, ideas, fellowship, belonging, purpose, and fulfillment.
And then, one day, both breath and life make their escape. Despite the meaning we have found, the truths and wisdom we’ve explored, the hands we’ve offered, souls we have become, our lives on earth come to an end. Surrounded by the pain of loss, friends and relations come to wonder, what kind of order wastes the magnificence of life on a road to sure demise?
Perhaps our understanding of the sanctity and magnitude of life is much too small without awareness of our nearness to the lack of the next breath we need to live; the knowledge that we, like the wind, are only passing through.
Perhaps God knows we haven’t the innate maturity to enter the shared eternity that is offered and desired for us, without the first-hand lessons that the wind and its enlivening passage demonstrate around and through us — zephyrs, squalls, and cyclones; breaths, lungs, blood-flow, heartbeats, moments. . . lifetimes.
Perhaps it is this paradox that sends us searching for our Maker, the source of the Great Mystery of love so vast and deep that it extends through all existence and creation. Even with our frequent focus on our own small winding path, our independent striving to survive, achieve, secure and enjoy our works’ rewards, God extends holy love to us. Somewhere, we mistook knowledge for wisdom, craving assurance and control, denying the mystery of trusting a love beyond comprehension. That love is fulfilled in God’s forgiveness of our urge to claim our lives. “He who would save his life shall lose it,” scripture warns in Matthew 16:25. Who are we to know what part we can play in God’s much larger plan, a piece of eternity yet unfurled?
And so, we are offered rescue by the God who knows our weakness and who knows firsthand of sacrifice. God fills the emptiness found within us and invites us to join in the good labor of reaching out to the isolation of others who search for the wonder of knowing God too.
God gives us wind — apparent in the ringing wind chimes, carried clouds, the tossing waves on open seas, and the call of friends passing on the street. And God sets us down on earth to live within the great order that exists just beyond our full perception, with discoveries waiting all around us at our attention’s every turn. Each discovery can change us, steadily revealing God further to us, the Giver of both grace and mercy that we, in turn, can share with others. And this invitation is extended to us to experience real, true growth by humble assimilation of God’s ways — wherein we can be, at last, made whole and readied for the gift of God’s desiring – our shared eternity.
For it is God who is at work in you, enabling you both to will and to work for his good pleasure. Philippians 2:13