Monday, June 20, 2011

Texas Wind

 This has been my first spring in Texas for almost 40 years. Spring in Texas real begins in March with its wet chilly sun. But by Pentecost in June it has gotten hot. My friends in NY are still wearing their longjohns and we are sweltering in at the 101 mark. But this spring has been windier than I ever remember.

I am sure that some environmentalist could tell how the winds are rooted in western culture’s failure to be attentive to the earth. There is blame enough all over. But I don’t recall the kind of wind that we have had.

The pecan trees in our backyard dance and rustle the whole of the day and even through the night. As a child I remember sitting on the front steps of our family home in the quiet heat of summer and the call of the cicadas beginning in one tree and growing to deafening and then subsiding and then starting up in another neighbor’s tree becoming a chorus of pulsating commentary on the day. And on still days now, I hear this chatter. But the wind keeps the cicada quiet. The nights are instead of their usual dewy respite from the days’ desiccant, continue to rob what moisture there is from the land.

We have had awe-filled storms this spring. Green skies, the tornado laden clouds, have invaded our attention on many occasions. Wild fires have run rampant over our drought dried flora west of town. Folks have lost their homes and some have lost their lives. And the wind continues to blow.

I grow tomatoes in pots. I have 5 plants arranged throughout the back yard. I can move them into the shade so they don’t just wither as the temperatures rise. I know that tomatoes love sun but they can’t take too much. Each morning while it is still comparatively cool, I water them and talk to them as if they were my children. I admire their fruit and cuss at the mockingbirds who rob them of their fruit before I can have them in my salad. Each day I have to right some part of our patio accoutrements: a chair here, a pot there. But still the wind blows them over. It scatters their fruit before it has a chance to ripen or even the bird get to feast.

In Texas the wind has always been a fact of life. But it seems so much more as am reacquainted with this southern weather. It makes me restless and anxious. It isn’t a light breeze that cools; it comes with blast furnace force. I know of one woman who while riding her bicycle was blown off a viaduct and into on-coming traffic. The wind is not to be trusted…

And yet we recall Pentecost when the wind blew in the Church. It was a violent wind too. It was not a simple breeze. It blew the complacency out of the Church. And perhaps it is a Texas wind that teaches us of what the Holy Spirit is about.

I am struck still with EM Kaeton’s story of the Shekinah of God. All too often we think of the Holy Spirit as some benign force that rustles our complacency. But the Holy Spirt that blows in our Church today is a Texas wind that blows hard. There is no “murmuring of the dove song” about the Holy Spirit in times like these. The Spirit dries our juices and demands our strength. It blows us off our bikes requiring attention and respect. It sometimes comes with tornados or hail. It dents our shiny constitutions and marks us as surely as baptismal oil. The Pentecostal wind that blows in the Church today is one that silences the choruses of meaningless chatter that all too often marks our preaching and teaching. It is a wind that moves us from the comfort of our albatross buildings into the ugliness of financial responsibility. It rattles the stained glass windows that keep out the world. It dries our moisture so that we are thirsty again for the living water of relationship with the Holy One.

We now begin the season of Pentecost—we celebrate this season with no feasts and no penitence. In some traditions this is called ‘Ordinary’ time. But it is the time of a spirit- wind that blows fiercely. We will not know where it comes from; it will blow where it wills. But it will clear and renew the face of the earth.

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