I endured four excruciatingly cold winters as a college student in Moorhead, MN. I was convinced Moorhead was the most frigid place on earth as I grumpily trudged across campus early in the mornings—even when all public schools were closed due to cold, Concordia was still open. It didn’t help that the only way to get from one end of campus to the other was on my feet, out in below-zero temperatures, sprinting between my dorm and my classrooms and the cafeteria and the library on a daily basis. But the worst part was the biting wind, blasting me nonstop, pushing me forward, accelerating around corners, sweeping off the far reaches of the North Dakota prairie.
How I hated that wind. I certainly try not to think about that wind when I wonder about the Holy Spirit. I like thinking about the Holy Spirit as a tropical breeze, a warm and welcome relief from sticky heat, a wind I would gladly turn my face into. This morning, after experiencing a -30 wind chill, my son asked me for a new ski mask, and my daughter immediately requested a pink version (don’t get me started on the gender stereotype—that’s for another article). When I encounter the Holy Spirit, I don’t want to be donning a ski mask; I want to be lounging in a beach chair.
Yet maybe I already do think of the Holy Spirit as a North Dakota wind. It’s a wind I long to escape, to shut outside; I’m infinitely more comfortable away from it, cozy in my warm house. I pray for God’s presence, but God is already present all around me; am I praying, then, for the type of God-presence I want? Do I want the gentle flow of wind across my face rather than the bitter gust of icy wind—that harshly reminds me of all those who aren’t able to escape it? I saw a man crouching on a bench waiting for the bus this morning, his face chapped and red, squinting into the chill, the furthest vision possible from a seaside vacation. And I drove away, my son and daughter snug under a blanket in the back seat, yet I’m still thinking about him this afternoon.
Come, Holy Spirit, Come.