15 Sept 2017
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“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” Matthew 7:7-8 (NIV)
Jeannie and I stood on Johnson Beach as the outer rain bands and winds of Hurricane Irma passed over Northwest Florida this past week. The wind blew at a steady 30 to 40 mph, the seagulls performed some great aerial maneuvers, the sand created little sand dunes behind each shell and I could hear the words of Bob Dylan’s music playing in my head;
…”the answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind, the answer is blowin in the wind.”
What does a protest song written by Bob Dylan in the early 60’s have to do with a hurricane? Blame it on growing up in the 60’s along with my fascination with all things in nature being a big part of my life. As an example… we get up early in the mornings for quiet time and to watch the sun rise. We also love seeing the sunset, and are known to stay up past our bedtime to watch a night blooming cactus open. The extreme contrast of powerful Hurricane force winds compared to the quiet beauty of a night blooming cactus continue to amaze me in how many different places we find God’s wonderful creations, to say nothing of the grains of windblown sand on the beach.
In a poem written more than two centuries ago William Blake wrote:
To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour (1-4)
But….Can we really see the whole world in a grain of sand? Through the lens of science we can see how even the smallest thing can be a gateway to an experience of the extraordinary, if only we can practice noticing. We walk past a thousand natural miracles every day, from the sun climbing in the sky to the arc of birds seen out our windows. Those miracles are there waiting for us to see them, to notice them and, most importantly, to find our delight in them.
William Blake took the idea of —a grain of sand, a wildflower—as containing some sort of greater cosmic truth if you can look at it with enough energy and imagination. A wildflower is a miniature heaven, a grain of sand is a miniature world… and every person and other living thing, in Blake’s view, is a miniature of the Divine Human or “Human Form Divine,” which he identified with Jesus.
After all these years I ask myself “what do Bob Dylan’s lyrics mean?” “The answer my friend is blowin in the wind, the answer is blowing in the wind…”
The truth is… Bob Dylan left that up to us to find our own answer to life’s many questions. However, it was in Matthew 7:7-8 who gives us spiritual guidance when he said:
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.”
The image of Christ knocking at a door is among my earliest childhood memories and one I find much comfort. At this time of a natural emergency like Hurricanes Harvey and Irma I am thankful the area of the Gulf Coast we call home was spared. However, we know there are many others who are less fortunate. The letter from Pastor David last week reminds us all of how to be ready to step up to help those in harm’s way. We all represent the door for those who are knocking for comfort and safety in the midst of a storm.
In the meantime and in the midst of all this excitement of “Cones of Uncertainty” and “Hurricane Spaghetti Models” I choose to take a deep breath, look around, and feel the wind blowing in my face and thank God for His magnificent creation.