A Mighty Spirited Day
Weather is with us every day whether we pay any attention or not. That’s pretty obvious, but sometimes the obvious things are what we need to learn to give our attention. That is a lesson I am still learning. I connect the obvious to the context in which we likely have the most to learn. But sometimes the extraordinary happens in order to draw us back to the obvious. It may not seem like I am still talking about the weather, but I am.
Yesterday was super windy. We have not had a windy day like that for a long time. It was the kind of wind against which you had to brace yourself if you were going to walk into it. It ripped off hats. Umbrellas stood no chance; they were immediate losers! Signs rattled and lights quivered. Experiences ranged between awe and awful.
Perhaps it is because I grew up on a farm that I like paying attention to the weather. When you are outside a great deal, you need to be prepared. These days it is easy to prepare. Almost any local radio or television station constantly is updating the incoming weather. There is even a cable weather channel. There are few surprises about what kind of weather is likely to come our way.
Yesterday was no exception. I had been hearing for a few days that it would be a windy day. I woke in the morning and it was not very windy. It makes you wonder whether they blew that forecast? Alas, they did not. By mid-morning, the wind was raging. It makes you feel like a prophet when you know it is coming…and it does!
It became a mighty spirited day. I changed the word here because I know all the classical languages use the same word for wind, spirit and breath. In Latin it is spiritus. Of course, that means spirit. It was a mighty spirited day. Having introduced spirit, let’s switch the conversation into that spiritual direction.
Spirit is one of my favorite ways of talking about God or the Holy One. I am ok with some of the more familiar images like Father, but I really prefer Spirit. I appreciate the personal aspects of using a term like Father or, even Mother. But I actually don’t see or image God as a “person.” God is more like the spirit---like the wind. God is everywhere even though you can see it.
And some days I am sure God is more readily present. I am sure some days God is mightily present. But most days I think God is quietly, subtlety present. I think about my own experience. There have been very few times when God was mightily present to me. I remember one time when I had been diagnosed with an illness. There was concern, confusion and complexity suddenly introduced into my life. Into that morass of emotions one night I had a mighty sense of God’s Presence.
Now that I am far from that actual experience, I could wonder whether I made it up to compensate for a touchy time? I certainly can never prove it was “real.” It was real to me, I know for a fact. Today students might ask, “but was it really real?” I would laugh, because I would have no idea how to decipher levels of reality. In faith I will continue to believe that Presence was real. That was a strong Spirit day. It was a mighty spirited day.
I will surely attest to the fact these kind of bold Divine Presence experiences have been very few. Probably there have been fewer of these experiences than there are mighty windy days. But the way I look at it, the spiritual journey should not need many---or any---of these dramatic events to see us on our way. Most of our spiritual journey is going to be like ordinary life---one non-dramatic day after another.
But the non-dramatic spiritual journey is much like ordinary weather. It happens, but few of us really notice or pay any attention. If we are in the weather, it does not matter much whether we are paying attention. The weather is not really germane to what most of us are doing. But that is not so with the spiritual life.
I would argue it is impossible to live and grow spiritually without being aware and paying attention. We may be in and surrounded all the time by the Spirit who is God, but if we are not aware, we will miss it. To miss it probably means we assume we are all alone in life’s unfolding. Of course, we appreciate others in our life, but bottom line is feeling how life goes is up to us.
The spiritual journey, on the other hand, means that we are conscious that we have a significant Other along the way. We are not alone. We are never alone. We may not feel it in powerful and unmistakable ways every day. But we know it is there just as surely as some days we can feel a faint breeze on our cheeks. We are buoyed and supported in our walk in the Spirit.
I am thankful and, even, delighted when I am thrust into a mighty windy day, as yesterday was. And I want to be as thankful and delighted when I realize that I also am experiencing a mighty spiritual day. Come to think about it, I can have that experience even when the Spirit of God is not present like a gale force.