Tuesday 13 January 2009

The answer is blowin' in the wind

the wind blows where it chooses

Weather Vane, Holthorpe Hall

The title of Bob Dylan's famous song provides a tantalising insight for anyone seeking direction for their future. 'The answer is blowin' in the wind' is a very biblical and true to life understanding of what we might expect in such circumstances. Seeing the  weather vane last week straightaway set me to thinking about how changes of direction come about and the role of God's Spirit in this process. The story of Jesus's baptism encourages us to expect that the Holy Spirit will play an integral part not only in our own self-understanding but also in the formative perceptions of those around us. This being so we can expect to be surprised, challenged, unsettled and prompted to journey in directions which are not of our choosing. Many of the prophets knew precisely what this feels like, as did the early Jesus movement post-Pentecost. The wind shifts direction, the weather vane turns, and our gaze is drawn to a part of the horizon we have not considered before, or have dismissed previously.

We become aware that an intention greater than our own is at work. The passage from John's gospel quoted alongside the picture of the weather vane conveys this well.

The wind of change tussles our hair and buffets our clothing; trees sway and leaves take to the air swept along by the godly fluid dynamics of possibility and promise. The creative presence of God, which the Bible pictures as breath and wind, invites us to 'go with the flow' and be carried by divine energy. The alternative is to dig in and turn around head down into the wind and wait it out.

In Lasse Halstrom's film adaptation of  Joanne Harris's novel Chocolat, similar thoughts are visualised and brought into play as an intriguing plot device. Juliette Binoche's character Vianne and her daughter Anouk  live an itinerant life, "travelling with the North Wind dispensing ancient remedies."   On Shrove Tuesday this wind brings them to a small, closed in community in rural France where open-heartedness, pleasure, grace, freedom and joy are desperately lacking and indeed are suppressed by the mayor (in the film) and the priest (in the book). The film brings Easter alive by showing how real love cherishes others and sets  them free to flourish.

Just as weather systems coming in from the Atlantic determine the weather over the British Isles so godly intention sweeps through and affects our daily experience.   The answer is blowin' in the wind, if we are prepared to trust the Holy Spirit. So far I have not chosen where I have served in ministry. I was sent to Weymouth as a Probationer Minister and then stationed to Hull in a priority appointment. In both cases I was told I was going and that there needed to be exceptional reasons not to go. I was asked to apply for my current post. Initially I said no, then 24 hours later said yes, because saying no seemed to be digging in and facing into the wind before even giving the church a chance to offer its formative perceptions of what the Holy Spirit might be up to.

Now the wind is blowing again and I am waiting to see where the weather vane will point next. My current appointment ends in 2011 and I have said that I am not seeking re-invitation.  The District will begin the process of appointing my successor in the Autumn. Just like me they will be open to the wind of the Spirit taking them in a fresh and exciting direction. We shall  I hope continue to grow and flourish in our time together; this is a great District with a real mission mind-set and a heart to share the love of Jesus. By the time I leave I will have eleven years or so to offer and I am excited, daunted, enthused and scared at the prospect of the unknown, but above all I am looking forward (literally) to the destination, as yet beyond the horizon, which God has in prospect for me.  I trust the wind. I expect those God-incidences which mark its creative presence. I look for its prompting's in the conversation and wisdom of others. Open to the Spirit, in my good moments I relish the gathering breeze. As one of Mr Wesley's preachers I am committed to "travelling with the North Wind dispensing ancient remedies." I know that the answer to my future is blowin' in the wind. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.


You can also see my post on Windmill Spirituality for a companion piece to this one


  1. :-) Scotland then if you are to be blown North, mind you we have been blown North so what can I say!!!

  2. There's no better place to be than blowing in the wind. Just as it takes you to new places it also blows away the cobwebs that come from being in one place for a while. It blew me quite far North too!