“The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear the sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going.”
Yesterday, I met with my spiritual director. We get together about once a month and talk. When I first started to meet with him, I voiced a great deal of frustration about where my life had been and where it appeared to be going. I did not see a great deal of God “working” in my life. I had completed seminary and felt that God would somehow open opportunities for me use that education. The months passed, and…nothing. Well, not entirely nothing. I had a heart attack. But, that’s a different chapter in this story. When I shared my feelings with my director, he listened carefully. (I appreciate that in people.) He did not offer answers.
“Sometimes we don’t see what God is doing unless we look back,” was the gist of his response at that time. By this he meant that transformation and maturity usually happens in bits and pieces over time. In our busy-ness we don’t see this happening. We are not ‘mindful’ or present to the way that the Holy Spirit encourages us and draws us ever nearer to the heart of God. “The wind blows wherever it pleases.”
I’ve begun to take his advice and have been reflecting on some things recently. I guess that’s what old, feeble people do. We look back over our lives, the decisions we’ve made, the people we’ve known and loved, (and some we haven’t loved too much!), and consider the legacy we’re leaving. Much of that reflection for me has revealed a long track filled with many train wrecks. Don’t get me wrong, there has been much joy in my life. But, for me, personally it’s been difficult.
I began to realize that not all of who we are as people is revealed in what are referred to as ‘outward’ attributes. Things like relationships, financial stability, jobs and the like. Perhaps, the greatest light shines on our ‘inner’ selves. These are the things that can drive our outward responses and actions. An example would be the frustration and anger that rise to our middle finger as that other idiot on the road cuts us off. I started to look inwardly, into my heart, to see what was there. What I found has encouraged me.
Over the past half dozen years, or so, there has been a growing compassion and empathy for others. Especially, for those who are not like me. Many evangelical churches encourage their members to make ‘unsaved’ friends. The reason for that is so that they can cultivate relationships that would enable them to share their message and, hopefully, get that person ‘saved.’ Well, I’ve found that I have more friends and people I communicate with who would not fit into that ‘born again’ demographic. And, I like them. They are wonderful people who care about others. They laugh and share and enjoy life. I have no intention of ‘preaching’ to any of them. I am, and have, been ready to share my experience with God when the subject comes up. But, there is no pressure on them or me for anything more than simply being together. I’ve found that I can empathize with them. My heart fills with compassion as I listen to them. And, I have the freedom to just be with them. No agenda or ulterior motivation. We are fellow humans, spinning through God’s Good Universe on a big rock. It is good.
Ten years ago, the story would have been much different. I was much less tolerant of others’ differences. I accepted a ‘black and white’ reality that had no room in it for the rainbow of God’s grace. I was angry and my life was a mess. But, God has been faithful and good. In my reflections I see hope. Hope that somehow our good God will continue to walk at my side, guiding me ever-so-gently, into a closer relationship with God and all of God’s Good Creation. “You hear the sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going.”