This morning, I found myself praying by simply listening to the wind. Don’t get me wrong: I am not talking about a mystical or other-worldly experience that overtook me. And I am certainly not advocating the adoption of a neo-pagan meditation practice. Rather, in listening to the wind, I found myself praying – but the praying was not me bringing words to the table, but me learning to be still. Psalm 46 comes to mind. As I think about it, this listening prayer really started last night as I noticed one of our trees leaning a bit more than usual as the rain soaked the ground and the winds pushed their way through our area. It continued through the night as the wind howled around the corners of our house and the trees’ groaning woke me several times. And then again this morning, as I drove our kids to school this morning and felt the need to adjust my steering in order to compensate for the wind’s continued pushiness, I continued to listen.
What follows is a short meditation that came out of this listening prayer – which is, I think, still ongoing. I wrote it as part of my weekly email to our church Elders – one of the ways that we facilitate open communication and deeper trust among our leadership. And after sending it off to them, I thought I’d post it here as well.
It’s a much cooler morning today. I marveled at the winds last night, some of which seem to be lingering this morning. I stood on our back porch for a few minutes during a pause in the rain last night simply watching the trees bend and listening to the wind howl across the field. The sheer force of the storms that rolled over us was quite something to take in – and from the sounds of it on cbc this morning, the area just west and north of Toronto got hit harder than we did.
While we have the science to explain how and why these storms form – and the forecasters were able to predict it well in advance – I still find myself in awe of them. I find a reminder in storms, and particularly in the wind, of how much of life we don’t control. There are limits to what we control…or at least to our understanding of how our behaviour might impact our weather systems. And if for nothing else but to keep us humble, it is good to remember that there is still much in this world that is beyond our grasp.
Yet, in the rushing of the wind, I also hear the echoes of those first disciples who feared drowning on a lake they knew well because of the unexpected “furious squall” that came upon them. At least four of them were fishermen; they made their living on that lake, just as their fathers had. They knew how to handle stormy waters. Yet, this storm was too much for them – they feared for their lives. And in the midst of panic setting in, they see Jesus sleeping, completely at rest. They are taken back; “Don’t you care if we drown.” He responds by rebuking the wind and the waves with those potent words: “Quiet! Be Still!” The storm’s fury dies and a complete calm overtakes the lake. The sudden and complete conformity of creation to Jesus’ words is not lost on those in the boat. As the furious compassion of Jesus settles into their hearts, they cry out: “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!”
With a blustery-but-calmer wind still pushing across the field and around the corners of our house this morning, I find myself longing for the faith of that wind and those waves: that upon hearing my Creator’s voice, I would respond without hesitation. I don’t intend to paint a romantic notion of creation. It too is full of chaos and devastation. One need only look to the aftermath of Haiyan in the Philippines or of the tornadoes that ripped up whole communities across Illinois and Indiana last night. Yet, at least in this one story, creation responded to its Creator’s voice with obedience. And Jesus used such obedience as an opportunity to call his disciples – both then and now – to a deeper faith in him.
As the wind howls, do we hear God’s invitation to trust him in midst of chaos? In the midst of those furious circumstantial squalls that overwhelm us and threaten to undo us, will we remember that God remains faithfully in control? That he is holding onto us? That he loves us and will bring us through? The wind is not on par with the covenantal sign of the rainbow, and enduring a storm is certainly not a sacrament. But yet, in the storm’s fury and the winds lingering bluster, I am hearing the call to remember and believe and respond in faith to my Creator’s voice. And for that, I am thankful.