Your answer, My friend, is …?
Perhaps you are familiar with the Bob Dylan song “Blowin’ in the Wind”? In it, nine questions are asked – questions which are as relevant today as they were when the song was written. For example,
How many ears must one man have before he can hear people cry?
How many deaths will it take till he knows that too many people have died?
How many years can some people exist before they’re allowed to be free?
How many times can a man turn his head pretending he just doesn’t see?
But there are hundreds of questions that could be added. A few years ago, I rewrote the song asking some of my own, but it is the refrain that set me thinking.
“The answers my friend are blowin' in the wind;
The answers are blowin’ in the wind.”
This business of answers blowing in the wind – it’s airy fairy stuff isn’t it?
Well anything to do with wind is airy alright. But it would only be fairy-like if we took things literally and rushed outside to grab the latest words of wisdom on leaves blowing past our doors or our windows; or expected some mystery messages on pieces of paper to fall into our laps.
Let’s forget about science books and encyclopaedias. What is wind? Very simply it’s moving air; that substance we live in, and breathe in, and move in, all the time – or most of the time anyway! It can influence our moods and affect what we do. It can be a gentle breeze or a howling gale. It’s invisible, but not so its effects. Smoky hair and smarting eyes when we burn some rubbish or sit around a fire are real enough. It stirs things up, like when we’ve got that pile of bits and pieces all ready to deal with. It’s strong as we soon find out when driving along the road and we get side-swiped by a sudden gust. It’s got the power to drive a turbine and the ability to dry the washing. We name it according to where it comes from.
It can destroy if we’re unprepared. We can get caught out if we fail to heed warning signs. It gets rid of staleness and stuffiness. It’s refreshing.
Of course if we don’t like wind then we can always shut ourselves away from it.
If the wind is going to be any use to me, I have to acknowledge its existence even if I don’t understand its mysteries. I also need to identify it by name (the source) and use its power and direction to meet my needs. I have to expose myself to it. But if I choose the wrong wind it can harm or even destroy me.
Put all these things together – the invisibles, the intangibles, the stirrings, the power, the reality, and so on, and this airy-fairy stuff will help us find answers to many of life’s questions. Let me recount a few of my experiences to illustrate what I mean – things that blow in the wind!
I heard the noise. A sort of flapping and cracking sound. Couldn’t make out where it was coming from.
It sounded close though.
Then I saw it. Almost above me, like a bird ducking and diving. Up and down in the wind. Fighting, struggling to get away, but not succeeding.
It was a kite.
One of those dart-shaped things with no tail and made of brightly coloured plastic material. But there didn’t seem to be anyone around who was flying it.
No sign of any string. It was as if a living thing was playing around up in the sky all on its own having a wonderful time. I watched, fascinated and puzzled.
How could this be happening?
There must be an answer.
And there was…
Out of the long grass in the paddock on the other side of the fence, I suddenly saw two arms sticking up, and they waved around so that the kite dived and soared to the left and right, up and down. It was like watching the hands of a body-less conductor in total control of the players performing above me.
But what was the means of communication? How were they connected?
By straining my eyes, and with the help of the sunlight and background colours, I caught the glimmer of two nylon strings.
Lying on his back, hidden in the grass, the “conductor” was having a marvellous time. No neck strain (like I was suffering), just working the controls of a well designed kite and allowing the wind to bring it all to life.
What a contrast to my kite flying days!
Brown paper, sticks, glue and string, newspaper and old stockings for the tail. You had to get the measurements right, and the string attached to the right place. How long should the tail be? When everything was put together and the wind was right, you had to find a wide open place away from the trees and power lines. You then had to get it up in the air, usually with someone else to hold it up and not stand on the tail, while you practiced a hundred yards sprint, running backwards. And just when you thought everything was going great, and the kite was up in the sky and the tugs on the line gave you a real thrill, down it would come at breakneck speed and nose dive into the ground.
Chances were that major repairs would be necessary as well as time consuming jobs of untangling the tail and rewinding the string which somehow had become a knotted mess.
When all the trial and error was over, and the mechanics had been mastered, and the kite was flying almost out of sight, and there was no more fishing line to unwind, you could really appreciate the skill and strength needed to do battle with the wind.
Kite making and flying are experiences which can make quite an impression on our minds.
You know, we all fly a “kite” from time to time.
Why? Of what substance is it?
If it gets off the “ground” how well does it fly?
Who’s really pulling the strings? Is it showy and noisy, or dignified and stable? What impact will it make on others?
The answer my friends will be blowing in the wind. Maybe more like hot-air balloons caught up in the shifting winds of new ideas, political correctness and weasel speak – lies and distortions of the truth. On such winds the string-pulling conductor can easily dazzle, bewilder, delude and deceive.
Do we want to be flying a “kite” in such winds?
Maybe you will be able to identify with this next little story!!
It was one of those dry gusty, dust-get-in-your-eyes days. The main street of the town was like a wind tunnel. Not the easiest of conditions for shoppers. A hang-on-to-your hat day.
A mini whirlwind whipped up some leaves and an assortment of litter. Ducking into doorways helped to provide an escape from the unpleasant vagaries of the wind. For those diving out there was an instant reminder not to indulge in a street stroll or the false economics of window shopping.
Then it happened.
Bowling down the footpath like a spiky Spinifex seed-head came a piece of paper. It lacked the grace of the tumbleweed though. As the angular object touched the pavement or rebounded from obstacles in its path, it assumed a jerky, erratic course. In hot pursuit came a rather portly male, who obviously had an interest in regaining control of that flying object. He was gaining on it. There was a purposeful glint in his eye. If only that piece of paper would lie down; be still; submit; die!!!
PPP (Precious Piece of Paper) reached an intersection. Here it was sucked up into the air where it ducked and dived in new found freedom and space.
The FFF (Fleet of Foot Fellow) was now frantic. Should he throw caution to the winds and try to dodge the traffic? The air current paused for breath and PPP dropped to the ground. FFF filled his lungs and took the plunge. Determined to reach PPP, side stepping pedestrians, ignoring cars and the honking of horns, FFF pounced. With a tantalizing, teasing flutter PPP slid sideways. FFF’s outstretched hands failed to make contact. Recovering his balance, he again zoomed in on his target, but like a hovercraft, PPP glided under a stationary car. By this time there was quite a gathering of amused spectators. Spurred on by shouts of encouragement and a few hoots of laughter, FFF got down on hands and knees and peered under the vehicle. PPP was out of reach. Round to the other side, but too late. PPP was on it’s way again, and the merry chase continued.
No doubt with the help of some thoroughly entertained and sympathetic onlookers the FFF was finally reunited with his PPP.
Not so long ago, I was in my own back yard. All alone as far as I know. (I certainly hope so!) I had both hands and arms full of various things I had picked up. A mixture of articles to be taken inside and put away, as well as some rubbish to go in the wheelie bin, with it’s lid that had to be opened. The juggling act began as I tried to deposit the “throw aways” from the “to keeps” without letting go of anything! The results? Things got dropped where they shouldn’t have. The wind took over. Paper and plastic bits and pieces flew everywhere.
“Blow!” I muttered. (A most inappropriate expletive.) I gave chase. If FFF’s antics had been funny, mine were ridiculous and hilarious. I blush at the thought of it. With no hands free I could only use my feet. Creep up on each piece of rubbish and stamp on it. Every time I was sure of success, a little eddy of air would waft away the offending article. It happened over and over again. I was behaving like a demented ballet dancer in clodhoppers. The more frenetic I became the wilder my stomps.
And I got mad!
Here I was behaving like a fool. Fortunately, there wasn’t anyone around, to laugh at me. No need for face-saving posturings. No need to justify my inefficiency and stubbornness. Why didn’t I use some good, old-fashioned common sense and calmly free up my hands and return to pick up what I’d dropped? Or better still make several trips instead of trying to do it all in one? When would I learn the wisdom of “more haste, less speed”? When would FFF and I (and lots of others) learn that there are many times when we are not really in control of the circumstances and situations that we find ourselves in? And yet irrational behaviour continues. Can we remain calm, when that which surrounds us wants to ruffle our ever so prim and proper feathers?
The answers my friends may well be found in the blowings of the wind!!
I often chuckle to myself when I think about that back-yard episode. Do I use that good old fashioned common sense with which I admonished myself?
No, I have not yet learned my lesson and so often the wind tests me. I know what I should do, but I don’t do it.
How often we try to do more and more with “hands” that are already so full, but instead we waste time because of over-commitment, frustration and stubbornness.
God knows. He sees! He must have a few quiet laughs. Or maybe He shakes His head rather sadly.
Every day we are all exposed to many “winds” that will have an effect on us. The winds of change, of adversity, of fashion, of public opinion, of chance, of convention and conformity, to name but a few.
The answers my friends, to so many situations and circumstances, are blowin’ in the “wind”!!! It’s amazing how much you can learn when you come out of the mould into fresh moving air!
I felt the winds of my Lord today –
So fresh I know they are real.
Yes, an’ loudly and clearly I hear them say:
‘The road for you I’ll reveal;
For I know the best way and I’ve walked it Myself,
So go in My power, and zeal.’
The answer my friend is who you listen to.
The answer will be for you.”
I call it the winds of the Spirit.