Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Wind, Wind on the Sea

Wind, Wind on the Sea

This is what the day of Pentecost looks like on the Central Coast.  The Holy Spirit is not just windy, but wet.

I’ve always thought of Pentecost as a dry land holiday. The Holy Spirit fills the streets of dusty Jerusalem like a hot sirocco wind, with burning tongues of hot prophecy.

But this past Sunday, when we sang Jim Manley’s fantastic Pentecost hymn “Spirit,” I heard for the first time a Spirit that is wet-blue as well as dry-red.

The moving refrain I’ve sung a million times:
 “Spirit, spirit of gentleness, blow through the wilderness,
Calling and free.
Spirit, spirit of restlessness, stir me from placidness,
Wind, wind on the sea.”

Wind, wind on the sea?

Of course, those are the Spirit winds of creation.  “You moved on the waters, you called to the deep.” Spirit and water are our very womb.

But for the rest of the song the Spirit blows on dry land: “you swept through the desert…you sang in a stable…down in the city you called once again….”

Until we sang that haunting refrain over and over, “Spirit of restlessness….Wind, wind on the sea.”

It’s really windy on the Central Coast these days, because it’s the annual “upwelling” season.  Each spring the prevailing westerlies shift to the north, and as they push along the coast, they blow the surface water south and away. Deep sea currents, cold and nutrient rich, “wake from their slumber, rise on their wings” (Manley) and bring to the surface a once a year all-you-can-eat-buffet for whales and squid and pelicans and you and me.  The Central Coast is one of only five places in the world, west coasts, where this massive upwelling surges from the deep each spring and summer.  We shiver because the upwelling also brings cold windy fog, but marine life thrives and rejoices.

Upwelling is good reminder that when we let our own surface be blown away, with the help of the Holy Spirit, we are always nourished from the deep.  Pentecosts galore – spirit and nourishment for the whole community.

(Come visit our Blue Theology Mission Station for incredible Pentecost whale sightings and other windy wonders.)

Wind on the sea means food from the deep.  Holy Spirit hovering is the wet force and source of renewed creation.

Manley wrote this hymn while pastor in Hawaii – surely he experienced firsthand the spirit over water; “you blew through your people on rush of the wind”.

Flames (at least on my gas stove) can be blue as well as red.  Happy wet Pentecost.
Another great NOAA photo by Chad King, off Pt. Pinos, Pacific Grove

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