“The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes.”
If I had to catalogue my hard lessons from this past year, at the top of the list would be lessons about prayer, and trust in the work of the Holy Spirit. All I could see was my brokenness and our collective brokenness, and I felt angry, paralyzed and ineffective. Subconsciously, I started believing in the religion of striving and self—if I don’t help that person, no one will. If I don’t say something, no one will. If I don’t fix that, no one will.
John 3 points us to heavenly things, away from spiritual agnosticism. To enter the kingdom of God, you must be born again, born of the Spirit. Jesus draws an analogy between the wind and the Spirit—you can’t know the origin of the wind, but you can see it.
In the last month, Washington, DC, experienced its fair share of wind storms. When the wind blows, it rattles my century-old house in Brookland from top to bottom, waking me up in the middle night and scaring me into praying for my windows and roof to stay intact. The other day, I spied a fourth of my almost-dead backyard tree on the ground, severed at the limb. I can’t see the wind, but I can hear and witness its mighty presence.
While I intellectually believed in God’s redeeming grace and unconditional love, I lived isolated from that truth. Prophets came to me and spoke the truth in love—that I was not responsible for solving every problem or caring for everyone, that I was at risk of falling into spiritual agnosticism in my functional doubt of God’s sovereignty, and that everything should start and end in prayer. So I stopped striving and began to pray for the presence of the Holy Spirit. Eventually, one day, I felt the nip of a cool autumn breeze. I heard the rattling of the windows and the breaking of branches. I began to see the ways the Holy Spirit powerfully was working in me and in my community.
In Ezekiel 37, God revives the valley of dry bones with the Holy Spirit: “I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life.” As we envision the future of Advent in Washington, DC, what would it look like for our church family to come to life? Will the city hear the rattling of windows and the breaking of branches? Will they see the grace and love we offer to each other and our neighbors? Will they know us as peacemakers and reconcilers? Will they see people who worship God, instead of politics or work or status or technology? Will they know us by the way we seek the flourishing of Washington, DC? This is the work of the Holy Spirit.
What we choose to fight is so tiny!
What fights with us is so great.
If only we would let ourselves be dominated
as things do by some immense storm,
we would become strong too, and not need names. 1
Karynna Asao serves on the Parish Council as your People’s Warden. She originates from the 50th state and lives in Brookland with her four housemates.
1 Maria Rilke, Rainer. An excerpt from “The Man is Watching.” Translated by Robert Bly.