Friday, March 2, 2018

The Pneuma: Wind and Spirit

I can hear the wind howling outside, powerful enough to rattle my study windows. I can see the branches of the trees being whipped about, some breaking and falling to the ground.  At the moment large snow flakes are being blown about creating an almost whiteout condition.  The Weather people are having a good time talking this one up.  They are even proclaiming this storm to be another bomb cyclone (aka an explosive cyclogenesis, or bombogenesis).  “A bomb cyclone occurs when the low pressure system’s central pressure drops 24 millibars in 24 hours or less”—which means we are experiencing a Nor’easter:  fierce winds (50-70 mph gusts), flooding, snow (could be rain) and coastal havoc.  No need to watch the high drama in D.C. today on the cable news networks—just tune into the Weather Channel.

When the wind blows like this I typically think of two things.  I think of  the song “The Wayward Wind” made popular by Patsy Cline and Gogi Grant.  And I think of Jesus’ words about wind, “The wind blows where it will, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know whence it comes and whither it goes. So is every one that is born of the Spirit” (John 3:8).  The Greek word used for wind in this passage is  pneuma. Pneuma is also the Greek word used for spirit.  

There are many things about the wind (pneuma) we may not understand (in spite of all our talk about explosive cyclogenesis); but the effect of the wind is plain enough.   Jesus seems to imply that the Spirit (pneuma) is the same.  You may not know or understand how the Spirit works; but you can see the effect of the Spirit if you pay attention to it (hear, see, experience, ponder over it, etc.).  The wind is something of a mystery, so is the spirit.  

The wind is howling.  Does the “Spirit-that-lives-in-all-things” howl, too?  The wind is whipping the branches of the trees, some are breaking and falling to the ground.  Does the “Spirit-that-lives-in-all-things” whip us about, break us, bring us down, too?  The wind rattles.  Does the Spirit rattle me? “The pneuma blows where it will, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know whence it (the pneuma) comes and whither it (the pneuma) goes.”  One cannot help but hear, see, experience, and ponder over the wind today (pneuma)—should we not also be hearing, seeing, experiencing and pondering over the Spirit-that-lives-in-all things (pneuma)?

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