Magic in the Wind

By

Theoretically, I’m a grown man. And yet I’m afraid. When I’m walking alone and the breeze suddenly quickens, fear awakens in me. The grass blades bow low like reverent, pagan slaves. The unconnected debris is caught up and scattered like so many prescient tramps. When the wind comes faster, and the tree limbs yield to the point of snapping, I want to run. Is there a ghost in the wind? Is he angry? May be.

Is there magic in the wind? I think so. Enlightenment, be hanged.

It was there in the beginning. The Spirit of God hovering over the face of the waters in creation, like the Spirit of God would hover over humble Mary and recreate everything in the waters of her womb. The wind is alive, for it is spirit. I’m sure you’ve heard that the Hebrew words for spirit, wind, and breath are all the same word (though with wide meaning variations). Same goes for Greek. Try reading John 3 (or all of John) and think about all the double-meanings as Jesus talks about those born of the spirit, who are like the wind. Where is he from? Galilee? Where is the wind from? Half the time people are wondering where he’s from, where he is, and where he’s going. He is the one born of the wind (Spirit). He is from the sky (same word for heaven) and his father, the Sky God, approves of him. He is the Master of the Wind, and the Sea. He will crush the dragon.

The story goes that God made man out of dust, then breathed into his nostrils the breath of life. The breath of God, the life of man. Dust to dust. We die when we stop breathing, or when the breath of God leaves us. Wind. Spirit. Breath. Life.

I suppose I only want to say that if you at times feel there is magic in the wind, believe it.

There is no stranger fairy tale than the true tale of God’s created and sustained world. Try to invent wonder beyond the story he is telling and you will be checked. Truth actually is stranger than fiction. It is an incredible deception that sustains a disbelief in magic. Thomas Jefferson may cut as many Bibles to shreds as he wishes, editing out the silly parts, but miracles cannot be so easily excised. The earth is a wizard’s tent, teeming with potions and enchantments.

Do we need to stretch our imaginations to see the unseen wonder of the world, especially the world to come? Yes, we do. We need an enchantment to break the spell of the dogmatic disbelief of our age. But this disbelief is not even fully rational. Imagine telling some one about the world who had never seen it.

“You see, we put seeds –like little babies of a plant– into the ground. We water them, or the Sky God sends rain. He sends sunshine as well and, sometime later, our food grows out of the dirt.”

Is it any stranger that we ourselves came from dirt?

The world is already magical.

Every beanstalk is magic. And every Jack is immortal. Why search for the goose that lays golden eggs, when it’s amazing enough they lay eggs at all? Or, hey, why not? Look for the golden eggs. I’ve seen stranger things. Kisses cause cradles. Because of all that is, I’m prepared to believe a lot that is (apparently) not.

I urge you to disbelieve the disbelief that surrounds us like an evil fog. Disbelieve the sneering comics who cynically dismiss magic and sincerity. Disbelieve the desperate scolds who preach the impossible tale of Godless good. Disbelieve the doubting part of your heart.

Surrender to wonder. Jesus is its maker and master.

When the wind picks up, maybe it’s not the wrong kind of fear I experience. Maybe it’s sudden, unstoppable humility before the untamed world and its wild God.

The sage of Ecclesiastes calls us to, “Fear God and keep his commands,” and elsewhere to, “Follow your heart.” It is good to lay hold of one and not neglect the other.

———

Note: Not to implicate them in my buffoonery, but along these lines I owe much to G.K. Chesterton (especially Orthodoxy) and N.D. Wilson (Notes From the Tilt-A-Whirl).


28 Comments

  1. Dan Foster

    It is the sin of the secular scientist to examine the growing seed and exclaim that he has figured out how it is all done “scientifically”. God isn’t needed after all.

    Rather, it is the joy of the Christian scientist to examine the growing seed and exclaim that God did not simply make it grow with no rhyme or reason but established an entire system with precise balance to allow our food to grow from the dirt.

    And it is the eye of the artist to overlook the details and marvel at the big picture.

    And the wonder of God is that he amazes them both.

  2. April Pickle

    And now I my mind is playing Rich Mullins singing “There’s so much beauty around us for just two eyes to see. But everywhere I go, I’m looking.”
    Lord, I see the magic. Help my inability to see the magic!

  3. Hannah Joy

    Wow. Great post! Funny thing is, I have been rereading Notes From the Tilt-a-Whirl again recently…what a great book.

    There’s something in the wind that makes me tremble when it comes crashing down through the trees and valleys. It’s almost calling–calling out a name. I think Rich Mullins puts it almost right–“I feel the thunder in the sky / see the sky about to rain / and I can hear the prairies calling out Your name.”

  4. James Witmer

    Few things wied more blood-quickening menace than the gusts of wind preceding a thunderstorm. Standing outside, buffeted, inhaling these winds is invigorating, strength-imparting, yet humbling.

    Thanks, Sam, for putting words to why.

  5. Lindsey

    Your writings bring such a joy and longing to my heart! My spirit leaps when I see an S.D. Smith post at the top of the page.

    I just watched the newer version of “A Little Princess” for the first time since I was a little girl. The magic in the movie captivated me like I was 9 years old all over again. The magic of a little girl using kindness to change the miserable world around her. Others would call it grace. I think they’re at times synonymous.

    p.s. yes, I’ve read the book. I was sewing, and the movie was on netflix. I can’t read and sew at the same time. 🙂

  6. Lois

    Love it! This is exactly what I have been wanting to say for forever! Thank you for putting into words my mangled up thoughts. 🙂

  7. Breann

    A couple years ago, a 9 year-old said to me, “You know what’s amazing? The earth is round, right? The people on the bottom and sides don’t fall off!” The first thought of my grown-up mind was, “How silly, of course we don’t fall off. It’s called gravity.” Another thought followed, “Have I allowed an explanation and name to lessen the wonder?” I thank the Spirit wind for blowing through my hardened heart in that moment and allowing me to marvel at the magic that binds and frees us to walk upon the surface of the earth. “It is amazing, isn’t it?”

    Thanks, Sam, (and the Rabbit Room community) for the continual reminder and invitation to surrender to wonder.

    “The Maker’s world is swollen with magic…”

  8. S. D. Smith

    @sdsmith

    Dan –Nicely said.

    April –Me too!

    Hannah Joy –Thanks you so much. What a wonderful book, yeah? I agree, it feels alive.

    James Witmer –Thanks, brother.

    Lindsey –Well, good grief. That is very kind of you to say and very encouraging! Thank you. That’s funny. I am in a serious, 12 year, matrimonial relationship with a lady who does the Netflix sewing/cooking.whatever thing at times, too!

  9. S. D. Smith

    @sdsmith

    Lois –Thanks. It was the desire of my heart to beat you to it!

    Breann –Perfectly said, my friend. I love hearing your thoughts which are so humble-hearted before God and faithful to him.

  10. Sharon

    Sam,
    I enjoyed this very much. As I was reading it, I thought of “Ordinary Day” by Melanie Penn.

  11. Alyssa

    Out of the blue my 4-year-old asked me the other day, “How did the whole world get made?” I fumbled around a few minutes, not knowing the answer or what to tell her. I finally settled on an explanation I knew would make sense to her: God and His magic. My conservative evangelical-raised self bristled at using those two words in the same sentence (old habit), but more deeply than my inner objections I felt the truth that you just expressed: “The world is already magical.”

    So well said, Sam.

  12. Zack

    I love this perspective! I recently finished “Notes…” and I’m working on “Orthodoxy” now. Great truths.

  13. Renee

    If we look at the world through the unstained eyes of children, wonder comes naturally. Child-like faith and trust in the God of wonders is at the heart of the mystery of the wind.

    A few thoughts:

    Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 18:3)

    Let the children alone, and do not hinder them from coming to Me; For the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these. (Matthew 19:14)

    “Surrender to wonder. Jesus is its maker and master.”

    Jesus held them in His arms and blessed them.

    Something happens when we ‘grow up’. When we get intellectual and try to explain everything. I say we need to “disbelieve the doubting part of your heart ” and embrace the wind!

    Underneath us are the Everlasting Arms.

    I have had this song playing in my head for a few days. I first heard it when the African Children’s Choir came to our town. I am not sure if it is appropriate to post a link here, so please let me know if I have overstepped my bounds.

    Thanks for the food for thought today. I have enjoyed chewing. Great reminder for me as a mom of nine children. I often get caught up in the business of the logistics. You have reminded me to stop and wonder with my babies. Thank you!

  14. Loren Warnemuende

    I ove how you’ve put this. So much of it clicks with ways I’ve been sharing God’s world with my kids and others. This morning in our 4th grade VBS I told the story of Jesus being tempted by Satan. The theme was “True Power” and how Jesus, with the help of the Holy Spirit, used the Bible to refute Satan. What was so cool to pull out was that Jesus–God’s own Son, the one who could still storms with a word and rise from the dead–used the same super power tools against Satan that God has given to us. Talk about magic!

    And this quote of yours has is an idea that’s been bumping around in my head since Jason Gray’s song, “The Name of God is the Sound of Our Breathing”:
    “The breath of God, the life of man. Dust to dust. We die when we stop breathing, or when the breath of God leaves us. Wind. Spirit. Breath. Life.”

  15. Jen

    Lately I’ve been feeling the weight of cynicism, despair, and the eye-rolling superiority that is such a part of this age. And I’m exhausted by it.

    Thank you. Catching up on RR posts tonight and the timing couldn’t be better. Reading this was like a breath of fresh, cool air. (pun totally not intended. Okay, maybe slightly intended.)

  16. S. D. Smith

    @sdsmith

    Sharon –I’ll have to listen to that. She’s on my list of artists to “give ear to.” Thank you.

    Alyssa –Good explanation, I think. You’re a great mom.

    Zack –Thanks. Enjoy! I had to reread Orthodoxy over and over (during). But man, it’s a delight.

    Jim Crotty –You are welcome, sir. Thank you for the encouragement.

    Renee –Boy, you have such a logistical challenge. I’m happy to hear about 9 kids getting their worldview shaped by someone with your sensitivity to the wonder-full love of God. As a kid who grew up in Africa (part of the time), I would have loved to hear an African choir sing that. Nobody sings better. (Of course, I’m particularly partial to Zulu singers, myself.) Blessings to you!

    Caleb Morris –Thanks, Caleb.

    Loren Warnemuende –Thank you. Obvious to say, I know, but: The Bible is such a wonderful book. It is like lightning in hand. It’s sad we so often (me!) treat it like a boring, irrelevant book.

    Jen –Wow, me too. The “cyntellectual” scorn is rampant (in my heart!). I need chain-breakers. God bless you as you escape the exhaustion.

  17. Jodith

    Wind has always been my favorite element in nature, so I liked this post. Then again, I tend to like the things you write S.D, almost as much as I like the wind =)

  18. Jodith

    Also, the last time I was at your house, your wife emphatically told me not to purchase “Notes” as you have several copies and would lend me one. Alas, I was forgetful that day when I left…

  19. S. D. Smith

    @sdsmith

    Thanks, Judith.

    I think I have run out of my store of “Notes…”

    You know what they say, “While supplies last.” 🙂

    But I definitely owe you a book, or ten.

  20. Stacy Grubb

    Spectacular. This brought to mind so many thoughts as I read and the minutes after I read. The first was to recall a vivid memory I’ve shared with my husband about this one time when I was a little girl at my aunt’s house. I was often at my aunt’s house. Among other really good reasons, she was a foster mother to many children, so there was never a lack of playmates. I’ll never forget (I hope) this one day when the wind started blowing like crazy. It wasn’t the scary type because it wasn’t the precursor to a storm. It was just wild and warm and sent leaves scattering like crazy. There were probably at least 9 of us kids that were possessed by this wind and we started running around like untamed creatures, squealing and jumping and gathering up the swirling leaves. There was a charge in the air. The wind was loud and unruly. It seemed like it went on forever, but still was gone before we knew and we slowly came down off that high. We tried to keep the magic going even after the wind died down, but with everything being so normal, we eventually had to give it over to the reality that it was time to go back to regular running through the yard. It was awesome, though. Awesome enough to still stir my soul more than 20 years later.

    Other than that, just tonight I had a conversation with my dad as he watched my 11 month old study a table top for several minutes. He said, “Wouldn’t it be great if we could enter into this other dimension where everything is still new to us? I mean, I look at this table and I already know all about wood grain and cuts and this and that. To her, it’s still something new and amazing.” So, I thought a second. The Bible tells us we should come to God with childlike minds. I think this also applies to taking in the wonder of things that we can easily accept as mundane. As I told Dad, Yes, we know about wood grains, but come on…this table used to be a tree! How crazy is that? Where did that tree come from? It used to be a little seed. Why shouldn’t that still be amazing to us? It’s good to know the science of the wheres, the hows, the whys, etc. But really it all only boils down to theory. This seed is planted and eventually takes root and begins to sprout and grow and grow strong and tall. Water and sun is involved. Trees need those things. And soil. Yes, yes, yes. Botany is a fascinating thing. But the wonderment of it all is still that, as simply as I may boil it down, *I* still can’t make a tree. So, put that in your pipe and smoke it, Scientific Explanation.

    And lastly, my oldest still asks me if magic is real. While I feel a kind of obligation to tell him that it’s not, I can’t bring myself to say the words. I guess part of me fears that if he believes in magic, maybe he’ll be less in awe of miracles and God’s power. But to say magic isn’t real feels like the beginning of the end. Well, thanks for getting my gears spinning in a different direction. I still believe in the importance of believing in magic mostly because I’ve lost my sense of it (or hopefully only misplaced it) over the years.

  21. Peter B

    Sharon: YES! That’s exactly what I was thinking.

    SD, thank you for the faithful unpacking of God’s treasure-drop to us. Still re-learning the wonder here…

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