Blowing in the Wind
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I spent a lot of time last week holding my grandson. He is about 9 months old. He likes to be sung to while he falls asleep. So, while holding him in the rocking chair I bought when my first child was born, I began singing to him.
I had sung a few songs, mostly the standards that have been sung to sleepy children for a while: Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star; Rockaby Baby; Row, Row, Row Your Boat. Standard Fare.
He was well on his way to La La land when I began singing Dylan’s “Blowing in the Wind.”
You ever come to a line in a song that is just so poignant, so powerful that it just captures your heart? It expresses something so profound, so deep, so moving that you find yourself breathless.
I remember a few such occasions. I was standing on a street corner in Norfolk VA in 1991 listnening to Holly Neer and a Gay Men’s Chorus lead a group of street protesters in a rousing chorus of her song “We Are a Gentle Angry People.” All of a sudden, I had tears coming down my face. I was so choked with emotion that I couldn’t make a noise. My mouth was moving, but no sound was coming out.
Some of you who are listening to this will remember when the New Century Hymnal came out. I do. Some of the new hymns were magnificent. My favorite of them was, and still is, Bring Many Names. I was at a workshop where the New Hymnal was being promo-ed. We had a sampler with a couple dozen new hymns, and were singing our way through some of them. We got to this one – and without any warning there they were again. Tears streaming down my face: I couldn’t sing. The images of God were new, poetic, expressive of something deep, hidden, and unknown before to me: Warm, Father God; Strong Mother God; Old, Aching God. Emotion again overcame me, and I could move my lips but I couldn’t sing.
The Holy Spirit can do that. Sneak up on you unexpectedly and express something so true, so profound, and so unutterable that the only proper response is awe and wonder. No words are needed, because none will do the job.
So there I am in my living room last week, holding my grandson and singing Dylan’s protest song. How many roads must a man walk down before they call him a man? How many seas must a white dove sail before she sleeps in the sand? How many times must a cannonball fly before they’re forever banned?
I didn’t finish that last line. I couldn’t. I was holding this precious child, nursing him to sleep in a cocoon of warmth and love, aware of what lay in wait for him out there in a world that will show him before too long how cruel it can be. I won’t try to explain everything that was going on in that moment. Why try? I just know I was so overcome with emotion I couldn’t keep singing. I didn’t even try. I just accepted the beauty of it all and let it wash over the two of us. It was a God moment that I have learned to appreciate. Like the answer to Dylan’s questions, the explanation to this phenomenon is out there somewhere blowing in the wind.
I don’t need an answer. I just appreciate those moments when love and beauty conspire to capture my attention.
Without knowing when and where that will happen again, I walk my days fed by such moments and living in hopeful anticipation of the next one. I hope and pray that you find your own beauty and are fed by your encounters with the sacred. Thank you for listening. Keep you heart open to those moments when something profound interrupts your normal and opens you to what we find as we walk Into the Mystic.