From the center of the aluminum gazebo on our deck outside hangs a small set of wind chimes. It has been hanging there for a few years now, mostly forgotten over several Falls and Winters. It just never gets taken down. I must be doing Fall chores on still days when the wind is not moving. I only notice the chimes when the wind blows.
And it can blow rather intently where we live. Although we have a lot of room between our neighbours, we are exposed. There are no trees to buffer the wind. There are no other buildings, or land elevations either. We are just hanging out in the middle. There are days when it feels like the wind could bust right through the house. Our aged windows do their best, but even they give to the pressure hinting to their coming retirement. The lone window on our North-East wall whistles a nervous tune on those days.
I really notice the chimes then. They can get loud. I am actually surprised the neighbour just behind our house hasn’t marched over and ripped them down during the night. I couldn’t even blame him if he did. I’ve even come close a couple of times. But then they would sing me back to sleep again. Sneaky little chimes.
A wind chime is a very simple idea made with common stuff. Ours has four thin metal tubes of varying lengths, hung spatially apart. Between them is a wide wooden disc, with a weighted decorative paddle hanging at the bottom. That is pretty much it. Gravity holds them all in place, equidistant from each other, maintaining their personal space.
Then comes a slight gust of wind. The paddle starts to sway back and forth. If the tubes had eyes, and pores, I suppose there would be some sweating going on as the disc swings ever closer. Soon mini chaos ensues. The disc starts banging against the tubes. They let out monotone cries with every collision. The disc is flung about frantically now. The tubes are shoved around to the point where they are even hitting each other. The wind is playing with them, or rather playing them.
What is chaos for them, sounds like music to us. Yet this is their purpose. The metal tubes are honed and cut to specific lengths, that when banged at the same time, work in harmony with each other. When this invisible force moves the paddle back and forth, a song is released. This song gives evidence to something unseen. Suddenly, the potentially destructive force has offered something special. We have no evidence of the wind apart from it’s effect on the world around us. Trees do move, hair does blow, chimes can sing. Even with our advanced meteorological equipment and knowledge to track it, the wind is still unpredictable and uncontainable. The Holy Spirit is a lot like that. Jesus said so.
“The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” John 3:8
How does He manifest Himself to the world? Through us. We are all a little different, some more than others I’ve observed. We are shaped at different lengths with complementary tones; purposefully. Alone, we may not sound like much, but together…
I am becoming convinced that we cannot sing the song we have been given unless we are connected in the community of faith. I don’t think God ever intended it to be a solo. We cannot be discipled in isolation. A community of faith can look many different ways, but we need to be close enough to touch when the Holy Spirit blows through. Jesus-followers who are tied together in love and faith will eventually sing a new song. Life may seem chaotic to the world, pushing and shoving us about. Confusion and fear unfortunately veils how people see God, prompting familiar questions.
Where is God? Why doesn’t He say something? Why won’t He just show up and fix everything?
Yet the Wind has placed many, many clusters of chimes throughout His creation. It is they who are to testify to His existence, to live together in unity and love, to bring beauty to chaos, and to offer a wonderful and soothing song to the tormented. The song of the chimes bring wonderful context to a wind-strong day. And so the Spirit moves across the world looking for a people to play His song. A song of praise; a song of hope. For it is not only our song, but it is our very reason.