March 1, 2023, 8:00 AM

The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So, it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit. John 3:8

St. Francis was well familiar with wind. He lived in a cave that must have howled when the gusts of air blew in and out. In the summer, hot air most likely made him sweat. The freezing cold air must have numbed his fingers and lips in the winter, and the persistent howling must have made his ears ring in the spring and fall. Without a weather map and cell phone, St. Francis never knew from where the wind was coming or where it was going. The wind simply existed without explanation! It was to him the Spirit of God.

The above passage (John 3:8) was spoken to a man named Nicodemus. He was a questioner who wanted to know everything about a strange man called Jesus. He met Jesus in the dark of night. He wanted an explanation of who Jesus was in terms of what he already knew. And, like us, when given answers that do not fit our experience, he had a hard time understanding what Jesus was saying.

When Nicodemus was told that he needed to be born again, the first thing that came into his mind was a mother birthing a child. To him, being born again was impossible. He was simply too old and too big. Like him, we often jump to conclusions based upon what we have already experienced. Being born must mean a physical birth. In so doing, we miss what God is really saying.

Jesus then introduces the image of the “wind” in an attempt to bring Nicodemus along. A person can not only be born physically, but also spiritually with God. The wind is not an idea or intangible force of nature, but an experience. Trying to explain an experience to another person is almost impossible.

Yet, that is how God’s love works, namely, through an experience with God and not necessarily in words or pictures. A Google search of the word “wind” uncovers countless pictures. Amazingly, there are hundreds of pictures showing wind turbines rotating high above the sea and land. Very seldom does a picture appear depicting actual wind. It’s almost impossible to find such a picture

When we attempt to approach God in our minds like Nicodemus did, we find that we miss the actual encounter with God. We find “wind turbines” instead of the experience of “the wind.” It is not an intellectual concept that gives us life, but being born again to feel anew the wind of the Spirit blowing directly in our faces and in our lives.

When a person undertakes the practice of Centering Prayer (or other deep forms of contemplation or meditation), he or she ends up with an experience of God beyond the intellect. This is what Jesus was attempting to teach Nicodemus.

When you and I sit in silence with God, we can hear, not only the March wind outside our house, but also the wind that is blowing from the Spirit of God deep within us. We experience God in ways that words cannot describe. That experience has authority for our lives.

During these weeks of Lent, I encourage you to take the opportunity to sit in silence, listen for the wind, and experience God in a new way.

Blessings and Prayers,

Fr. John