“I can't change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.”
The wind always seems to blow between Big Timber and Livingston—it is Montana’s wind tunnel. At times it blows hard enough that the semi-trucks on the interstate are blown over and the road is closed. The locals in Big Timber joke that living in a wind tunnel is no big deal as long as you learn to lean into the wind . . . and, that you can tell when the wind has quit blowing—all the cows are lying on their sides in the pastures. There is a lot of truth to their words . . . I just spent a day and a half in Big Timber . . . the wind never quit howling the whole time I was there.
Now Big Timber is not a usual place that someone picks to spend a couple of days for the fun of it, and I was not in Big Timber for the fun of it. I was in Big Timber for a church meeting . . . in fact, I was there to attend the partnership meeting of the Northern Wyoming/Montana United Church of Christ Conference and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Montana joint board meeting. We have been doing this sort of meeting officially now for a little over a year now. This happens to be the weekend that I blew into town for the big event . . . and, the wind blew the whole time.
At the end of our meeting the regional minister for the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) wanted to spend some time reflecting on the presence of God . . . in particular, she wanted us to name those times that we saw or felt the presence of God in our gathering. Of course, there were the typical answers one expects to hear at a gathering of the faithful . . . around the communion table . . . in the worship service . . . in conversations with others . . . in the work that was achieved. All good answers, but my answer to her question was possibly a Freudian slip or a wisecrack. I simply stated that I don’t know if I saw God anywhere, but I sure heard God all weekend in the wind. Of course, it got a good laugh.
Honestly, I was not trying to be funny. It is just a curse . . . I open my mouth and funny things come out. I really wasn’t trying to make a joke.
In the Bible, the Holy Spirit is sometimes referred to as “wind” or “like the wind”. Those writers of the Bible made a good attempt when they attempted to describe the Holy Spirit—to describe God—as the “wind” or “like the wind” . . . because, it is like the wind. Wind is a mysterious force . . . we are not really sure from where it comes . . . we cannot see it . . . it is mighty and powerful (Come on, it can blow semi-trucks and cows over!) . . . we can see its effects, yet we cannot see it . . . it is invisible. We can feel it, but we cannot see it. It is a powerful force. Isn’t that the way God seems to work? Like the wind?
The wind was blowing this weekend in the gathering of the faithful who joined together to form this partnership between two small denominations out in the middle of the Great American Frontier. The question is: Were we listening?
For several years the two denominations discerned the idea of a partnership to bring together two similar, but difference groups of the faithful. A little over a year ago, we made the decision to be partners. Ever since, I content, the wind has been howling. As with any decision, there were those who were against it, those who were for it, and everything in-between. There has been rejoicing, and there has been lamenting. Through it all, the wind has been blowing . . . and we stand in the wind . . . and, I think that we are learning . . . we are learning, learning to adjust our sails to reach for that destination we feel God is calling us to.
I think that we are listening to the wind. I heard it in the statements of those who mentioned God’s presence in the ability to be the body of Christ where the different parts come together to be the whole. I heard it in the statement of receiving the broken bread and the wine as we gathered around the table to share in Holy Communion. I heard it in the harmony of voices joined together to sing in worship . . . many voices, one sound of praise. I heard it in the tiredness of those leaving to return to their homes around the state; the work was hard, but the potential was great. There was hope . . . there was opportunity . . . there was the kingdom to come. Yeah, we were listening to the wind. It was biblical . . . how can you beat that for weekend entertainment. The wind blew . . . and we listened. Our sails are set . . .