A Windy Night

Last night the wind tugged and pulled at the monastery, sending shivery blasts through every little crack and crevice. It was a powerful reminder that, no matter how much we like to think we are in control, no matter how much technology we have at our disposal, there are many things we cannot control. We are left like Job, putting a finger to his lips when questioned by God. But that does not stop us wanting to know, wanting to control.

The desire to control is one we all experience, to greater or lesser degree. At its best, it encourages us to explore, explain, understand; at its worst, it makes us seek to dominate or destroy. During this month of November, when we pray so often for the dead and remember particularly those who died in war, it may be helpful to reflect on those areas of our own lives where there is either too much or too little control, knowing that the consequences of untrammelled desires can be deadly. It may help, too, to go through the Bible looking at the ways in which wind is used as an image of God’s action in our lives, above all, as an image of the Holy Spirit.

A windy night may teach us more than we ever dreamed possible.

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4 thoughts on “A Windy Night”

  1. It’s the Quaker hymn that’s been with me these past blustery days and I’ve been aware of that ‘still, small voice of calm’ that is present on the stormiest of night.

  2. Something I often return to in sessions I have with either terminally ill patients or their carers/parents/children is the fact that feeling we are not in control is often what causes us the greatest degree of stress in our lives. Terminal illness often entails the prodding and poking of the body by strangers; the body’s sickness which no matter what an individual wills, continues to grow; the time robbed by hospital appointments; friends and family who shun you or treat you differently; enforced poverty because a person cannot work; the regrets of the past and fear of the future that allow no time to enjoy the present… All ways in which life threatening illness takes away control and thus adds almost unbearable stress to death, fast approaching on the horizon.

    Yet there are also moments of real peace – I’ve particularly seen in this in patients who have something unfinished, such as a will that hasn’t been written, or care of children not sorted out. Both tasks that are often my bread and butter at the hospice. I’ve even organised death bed weddings. Obviously the stress often falls onto me – trying to get hold of a willing solicitor and ensuring one of our palliative care consultants is on hand to verify mental capacity… But once it is done (and in the main it is often care of children rather than the allotting of wealth that is the real need for urgency) there is a wonderful peace that fills the room – a peace which often leads to death coming very quickly to the patient. It is as if they say ‘Thank goodness that’s out of the way, I can die now…’ – for once they are in control again and stress is at last banished.

    Sometimes just living in the here and now, enjoying the moment, is the best way forward. Not to mention being thankful for the fact for most of the time, here in the cosy West, our lives are blessed by civil order, access to health care, clean water and a bed every night. In the wider world children (and their parents) die because of the life we lead in the West – for want of simple things, such as clean water or a decent meal. Indeed, we have much to be thankful for and although I worry and fret over something and nothing at least once a day, I remind myself of how lucky I am and move on…

  3. I smoked heavily for about 40 years and, at least toward the end of that time, it sapped my confidence in that my ‘addiction’ was beyond my control. Now, 20 odd years later, I realise it was not an addiction and not out of control, I simply believed it was. I suspect much else of life is also like that.

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