“The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, 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 (ESV)
Many of us are familiar with the image of a white dove in Christian artwork and symbolism used to represent the Holy Spirit. While beautiful and serene, I tend to gravitate towards another symbol for the Holy Spirit given to us by Celtic Christianity: the wild goose.
The Christian life is many things, but predictable is not one of them. God has this really profound track record of just when we think we have God figured out, we realize that there is more to God than we ever imagined. Our Christian journey feels less like a direct and well-worn path and more like a “wild goose chase” pursuing God (and often, God pursuing us!) into places that we never would have ventured otherwise, and into places that don’t tend to be anywhere on any map we can find.
It certainly feels like we are in the midst of a goose chase right now. We are being led (or pushed!) into new territory like online worship and trying to find new ways to maintain connection and relationship. Church looks and feels different, as does almost every part of our lives right now. The verse from John above reminds me that life in the Spirit can be a blustery one. Sometimes it feels as if we can’t tell if we are coming or going, and despite our wishes for a straight and direct route, our spiritual journey ends up looking like a map of Billy’s adventures from the comic strip “Family Circus.”
And yet, God is in the detours, the wind gusts, the goose chases. God is with us in the uncertainty, and God is right beside us when we feel like we’ve been blown completely off track and will never find our way home. In these “off the map” moments, I am comforted by another image from our feathered friend, Mr. Goose: the “V” formation. On the long journey back to “normal” (whatever that means), our shared life in the Spirit shows us the best way to travel home: together.
Lord, guide us on days when we feel lost and disoriented. Remind us of the gift of each other, and gift of new and astonishing in which the wild and wandering Spirit of God is at work all around us. Amen.