Bushland suburbs in the foothills of Mt Wellington (Hobart) are cleaning up after a near-cyclonic windstorm over several days last week. The sound of chainsaws and trucks with mulchers was heard everywhere during the calmer days of the weekend.
Westerly blasts of 90–150 k hurtled from the pinnacle and down our valley, for hour upon hour upon hour. The worst of it was in the night when the electricity was cut in thousands of homes. Darkness, cold, noise, fear, alarm. No chance of sleeping through it. We huddled under doonas, pillows over our ears, waiting: for the exploding window, the crashing tree, the flying trampoline and roofing iron, garden sheds and patio furniture.
The wind from this quarter in our valley can be heard long before it arrives. You can count the seconds till it hits: 1, 2, 3, 4 ... Like a fully laden, out-of-control steam train on full throttle roaring down the mountain side, smashing into everything and anything in its path.
Wind can be destructive and discomforting. It unsettles and disturbs. It's noisy and disruptive and probes into all the cracks and weaknesses.
And it is invisible. I think that is what disturbs us the most, particularly in the darkness of night. All we see is the evidence of its passing when we cautiously venture out of our shelter.
Wind is energy, 'air in motion' as the meteorologists say. Caused by changing air pressure and temperature, wind is a constant, its currents swirling round the world, gathering energy from the sea and changing direction completely at will. This invisible energy has not ceased since the beginning of time when the Spirit of God moved across the waters. Mighty stuff!
As it says in John 3.8, The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. (NIV)
There is another aspect to wind; a more positive aspect, but it is hard to think of this when you are in the middle of a windstorm and all you want is for the wind to STOP!
Wind also brings good things
Wind helps us to travel and trade; it fills the sails of boats and enables planes to fly. Birds like the albatross can glide for days on the high-speed winds swirling across the Southern Ocean. Wind spins power turbines, scatters the chaff, removes the dust, uncovers things long hidden. It disperses seeds and pollens and insects; brings rain and dries the floods.
The wind creates community; it brings humans together. As people emerge, battered and unslept after the wildness, we reconnect. Friend and stranger alike tell their story, share a cuppa, offer help to each other, bond. Kindness and friendship blossom.
It is a reminder of that other great rushing wind. A group of strangers gathered together, fearful, unsettled, disturbed and unsure of the future and then came the fire and wind of Pentecost. Suddenly people could talk together and understand one another in the unseen wind. Lives were reconnected and refreshed by the greatest invisible energy of all.
Sheelagh Wegman is a freelance writer and editor. She is in the community of St David’s Cathedral in Hobart and lives in the foothills of kunanyi/Mt Wellington.
Sheelagh Wegman’s previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/sheelagh-wegman.html