Grace notes: Heeding lessons hidden in the wind

The Holy Spirit is often associated with wind, maybe because wind is mysterious and unpredictable. It can sometimes be playful and gentle, and can bring blessed relief on a scorching summer day. At other times it rages across the land.

Unpredictability is hard to accept in our high-tech world. It’s tempting to believe the doctor is in control of our health when we clamor for the latest treatments to extend our life spans. It's enticing to rely on the weatherman when we plan picnics and on financial advisers when we build our portfolios.

Forecasters, economic and otherwise, do their best to make predictions, but leaning too heavily on their wisdom can disappoint us. Let’s face it: The future is unknown, and it is beyond human control. Just like the wind.

I learned this lesson in a small boat in the Gulf of Mexico years ago, when fierce gusts of wind transformed the vessel into a bucking horse. Waves crashed against the boat and I remember the terror that gripped my heart as I realized how vulnerable human beings are to the whims of nature.

That storm inspired me to pray for the first time in years, even though I wasn’t sure who was listening. Was it God, Neptune, Mother Nature? Maybe it didn’t matter, because the storm prompted me to reach out to someone beyond this world.

Stormy summer nights remind us: Don’t cling too tightly to our predictable little world. Someone greater than us might have different plans.

How tempting predictability is, though. I love my library job because the setting is orderly and quiet, and the routine is familiar. At home, my husband and I also are creatures of routine, arising before dawn on weekdays to make oatmeal while the birds sing morning prayers. Saturdays find me writing, and him painting during the day, and then having supper together on the back deck. Sundays we head to Mass and sit in the same pew.

Sometimes I get antsy, complaining that our lives are terribly dull. Then I remember the small boat in the storm. I also remember how an illness can change everything. And then I feel grateful for my stodgy routine -- and see it as a blessing.

There are lessons in the whispers of the wind. Today she moves gently through my life, and I enjoy her sweet touch. But I must be prepared to face whatever upheavals she may bring tomorrow. The wind reminds me to see God’s hand everywhere. And to pray for the grace to accept whatever God sends.

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Lorraine’s latest books are “The Abbess of Andalusia: Flannery O’Connor’s Spiritual Journey” and “Death in the Choir,” a mystery set in Decatur. Her e-mail is lorrainevmurray@yahoo.com and her Web site is www.lorrainevmurray.com

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