January 2012: Wind
A great wind is blowing, and that gives you either imagination or a headache.
~Catherine the Great
Wind is a mysterious element, isn’t it? Began mulling about that in the wee hours this morning as the wind howled up a storm, pummeling against the side of the house.
Some people find this sound comforting knowing they are snuggled safe and warm inside their cozy homes. Others find the sound haunting and disturbing, knowing the world will look different when they awake.
As I waited for the wind to abate a bit, it crossed my mind that wind takes on many diverse meanings—sometimes simultaneously—contributing to wind’s mysterious nature. Take the Chinook for example. The word Chinook means ‘snow eater’ and a true Chinook wind will do just that—eat up all the snow exposing bare ground—which is advantageous for foraging animals, but confusing to plant life which can die off if they start their spring re-growth prematurely and are taken off guard by the next severe snow storm.
People tend to appreciate Chinooks as they provide a break from the harshness of winter. The more Chinooks, the milder the winter. However, the stronger the Chinook, the more damage caused by the strong winds. You may not have to shovel your driveway as often; but you may have other troubles such as torn siding, broken windows from flying debris, and the like. So a wind that can bring comfort can also bring harm.
Same for the cold, blustery winds. They may bring frigid air and biting wind chill; but often they also bring moisture which the land needs for sustenance. As well, the cold temperatures keep the rhythm of life in check. Animals stay burrowed. Plants stay dormant. And the foraging animals know how to keep sustained even in extreme conditions. They have their sources.
Come summer, winds can waft in as refreshing breezes, or bluster through with sand and dirt chasing its heels, or interfere in our plans in one way or another. We can welcome wind, or curse in the direction from whence it came. At any rate, wind carries with it the message of change. The world will somehow be different once the winds settle down or blow on their way.
So what does the wind mean for you? Does it represent the rhythms of natural life? Or the mysterious presence of the Spiritual Other? Is it a reminder of the ever-changing nature of our lives? Much like we do with the wind, we can either fight against what is or work with what blows our way. The wind can remind us to pause in our day to reflect upon the rhythms of life, our spiritual needs, our response to change; or even to welcome and embrace refreshment, uplifting moments, the breath of life, or the comforts of hearth and home.
As we begin another New Year in the midst of winter, may the winds that blow offer comfort and solace, as well as remind us to boldly endure and to marvel at the mysteries of Life.
The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.
~William Arthur Ward