The wind blows where it pleases;
you can hear its sound,
but you cannot tell where it come from or where it is going.
So it is with everyone who is born of the spirit.”
~ John 3:8
On Mondays I will be writing about pilgrimage. Journeying from one place to another with mindful intention. Pilgrimages made over hundreds of miles or just from here to over there. Steps of intention. Steps to help us make meaning. Steps of purpose of place.
My cousin, Chuck is a sailor. He captains sailboat charters. He takes folks out for a day or two or sometimes longer. Recently I talked with him after returning from a week’s trip. He had taken a family of four and had sailed the eastern coastline of Mexico. “You can go 60 miles or more if the wind is behind your back.”
It’s wonderful to hear his stories. The places he has been, the places he will go. And for each trip, he pays attention to the wind, its direction and speed. It’s not that he doesn’t know where he hopes to go or where he plans to go. He does. He and his passenger-crew set out every morning with a destination in mind. But when sailing there is a deep truth in the old saying: "it’s not (so much) the destination, it’s the journey.” His is never a journey of a straight line. When sailing he talks about the truth of continually being flexible. He tells me about paying attention and more often than not, about making his decisions along the way. His is always a trip that follows the wind.
When Chuck was telling me about this recent trip to Mexico, he said one morning they woke up in the wind was blowing strongly from the north. So, they fixed their sails and set off. “It was beautiful,” he said. The next morning the wind was from the south. And so, again they adjusted and set out. “65 miles of the 70 miles that day was all on wind power.” I closed my eyes and listened and tried to imagine. And then I wondered what kind of journey that must be like to take. It would be easy to say something like, "Yeah, but you ended up in about the same place." But did they?
The gospel of John invites us to learn about the Spirit using our understanding of the wind. We can’t actually see the wind, but we know when it is stronger and more present. We can hear it blowing through the trees. We can feel the wind on our faces.
I wonder sometimes if I have the faith enough to trust the wind like my cousin, Chuck and his crew. Some days I feel like I am moving through the world on auto-pilot. Chugging along. Making my way through. And the truth is, I do actually make it through the day. But I wonder what would change for me if instead, I engaged and re-engaged my faith and let go of my locked-in-notions. What would change if instead, I set out trusting the wind?
These Lenten days are our reminding days of that very thing. Engaging. Re-engaging. Trusting. Setting sail for what is just on up ahead, just past where we can now see.
thanks to cousin, Chuck for this picture of a recent trip