Feb. 26, 2016. (continued from Sense of Place: Earth Water Air Fire) During the day, I watch the wind, as it creates breakers on the lake, as it makes the bird feeder swing wildly from its hook, as it gives ring-billed gulls lift for their acrobatics, as it blows snow into drifts. But at night, I hear it. And when I can only hear it, I find myself identifying with ancient nomads who lived in tents or yurts, listening to the voice of God.
Did I just write that? "Voice of God"? It might easily be the Roar of Chaos. If the wind picks up while I'm sleeping, I'm suddenly wide awake. It's unsettling because, unlike breakers, it has no rhythm. It shifts and gusts unpredictably. Something bumps against the house. What's it doing out there?
I come back to the Hebrew idea of ruach, the breath of God animating the cosmos. Invisible except for its effects, wind brings change. The ancient Greeks used winds at first to define the four compass points and also connected them with the four seasons: Boreas, the north wind, was old man winter. Notus, from the south, was the scorching winds of summer. From the (south-)east, the wind Euros brought dreary rains and tornados (autumn?). From the west, gentle Zephyrus delivered spring.
Wind complicates. It turns snow fall into a blizzard. It turns a dropped match into a wildfire. It whips the seas up into hurricanes and the plains into tornados.
But clever humans figured out how to harness wind power. As early as 5000 B.C.E. sailboats traveled on the Nile. Then windmills were used to grind grain.
I used to own a sailboat. I liked being part of the crew, but never felt comfortable at the rudder. I couldn't manage a conversation with the breeze. We did not "become one." Same--worse, really--with windsurfing: I fought the wind, and lost. The wind--the ruach--is definitely a Higher Power.
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