Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Who Can See the Wind?

A few years ago, our friend Virginia gave us some Westminster chimes. They hang outside all year, their long pipes ringing deep and round in all seasons. Last night, a gusty wind disturbed them--I could hear them through the open window-- and this morning, when, for the first time this year, dawn came gently enough to greet sitting outside in my favorite chair, the chimes hung silent. I found the clapper's string tangled in a nearby vine, and as I freed it, it struck the bells hard.

I could hear the sound they made, of course, rich and insistent, like an impatient call to church, but as I drew away my hands, I could feel its song, too, like something thick and fuzzy in the air around it, something that moved without substance, beyond sensory experience. I remembered that I heard once somewhere how, when Beethoven became deaf in the last days of his life, he would lay his head on his piano as he played it so, though he could not hear the music, he could feel its vibration through the soundboard. Today, those same vibrations came not only through the bells of my chimes, but into the air around them, real but invisible, impossibly alive without form or feeling.

The chimes remind me that our lives extend beyond what our sensory experiences register. Not one to think very often about otherworldly influences, spiritual beings like angels or demons, I don't usually recognize them when they pay us a call. Because they touch places not accessible to senses, I can't directly grasp their influence. Like subtle, indefinable warnings that someone is walking up behind me or a child is stealing a cookie from the jar in another room, I just know. Like the air changing around my chimes, like an invisible shallow breath, like the slow beat of life, I can't hold spiritual presences in my hand. I just have to trust the knowing.

The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them because they are spiritually discerned. --1Corinthians 2:13

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