Looking out the office window today, I see the snow highlighting the edges of the ever whipping wind coming across the fields north of West Lafayette. Twisting, swirling, surging - the wisps of snow shift slide over the landscape in a wintry dance. From time to time even a vortex arises in fearful majesty only to disappear the next instant. The shifting blowing snow appears, draws our attention, and then is gone - yet it occurs everywhere. We see it driving late down a lonely road when the fresh snow fall begins to dust the earth. Its footprint is left in the crests and ridges on the crust of the windswept snowfall. Aimless yet definitive lines detailing the visible effects of an invisible force.
I have always been mesmerized by the beauty of this phenomenon. It shows there is so much more if we just have eyes to see (or snow to show). It transforms a 'windy' day into a wonder of swirling forces rushing to and fro. The westerly wind becomes nuanced with southern, northern, and even eastern gusts. Its ephemeral nature begins to appeal to our imagination and the what ifs of harnessing its visible force. What if we could fully understand the pattern of the wind and harness its energy continuously? What if we could put into words the flashes of thoughts which bring such clarity and peace in a moment but are gone the next? What if we could see also the invisible forces of this life - riding and avoiding the prevailing gusts to our benefit?
My mind races through these questions and possibilities - hoping, yearning, striving towards the harnessing of such a power. Maybe the next study or next technique or next event will bring to me what I always knew I could have. And then I hit the drift created by this same tantalizing force. The smoothed over obstacle and deep ditch planed out are the deceptive results of such pursuits. We sink down into the reality of ground beneath our feet despite how high our minds can fly in idealistic thought. From stable ground there is indeed beauty looking at this cover-up. Driving down County Road 50 from St Andrew the ditches seemingly disappear for stretches where the wind can blow unimpeded across the field. Yet it is only a cover-up for a chasm which will pull the tire and then whole car down.
Such beauty and danger together remind me of the teacher in Ecclesiastes 1:14 , "I have seen everything that is done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity and a striving after wind." How often do we put our hope in controlling unpredictable and undifferentiating forces? How often do we allow our own privileges and concerns to drift over inconvenient obstacles of the other and ditches of unchecked ambition? I give thanks for being a part of a community which checks me back into the reality of these forces by making visible the invisible One with the power over all. The one who used the wind to break the rocks and tear the mountain on which Elijah stood. The one who brought down the Holy Spirit with a rushing wind on Pentecost. The one who took on flesh and said, "The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit." There has been, is and will be an invisible order and power made visible. And this power loves me. It is far greater and more beautiful than that highlighted by the drifting snow.
I realize the drifting snow may keep us inside this week-end. I am hoping the drifts in my life never keep me from making this power and love known to all.