In the famous song Blowing in the Wind by Bob Dylan, Dylan asks those pressing questions in life with the following verses: “How many roads must a man walk down before you call him a man? How many seas must a white dove sail before she sleeps in the sand?”
Throughout the song, Dylan asks such deep questions as - Who am I? What’s life about? When where there be peace? And then comes his famous answer. “The answer my friend is blowing in the wind.”
With this answer to all of life’s questions as “the wind,” we generally assume that he’s referring to some vague, abstract concept. Not that Bob Dylan is a theological genius, but his song suggests something that is Biblically spot on. Rather than view the wind as an elusive construct, “the wind” in our readings on Pentecost refers directly to the Holy Spirit.
The Hebrew word for the Spirit of God is “ruach” - which means wind or breath. The Book of Genesis describes how "The earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the ruach (wind/breath) of God was hovering over the waters." The wind is meant to signify the breath of God, and from this breath comes all of creation. Notice also in Genesis that the very thing that triggered the first man into a “living being” was when God breathed into him the breath of life (Gen. 2:7). Similarly, in today’s Gospel reading, we witness Jesus breathing on the disciples and then immediately telling the “receive the Holy Spirit.” Do you begin to see a pattern with God breathing and new life of the Holy Spirit emerging? It is almost as if the Holy Spirit is the breath of God the Father in which sacred life transmutes into a soul.
Assuming we humbly allow the Holy Spirit into us, He will implant in us a spiritual seal that bestows us with the gifts of knowledge, understanding, wisdom, courage, reverence to God, piety, and counsel. As anxiety and uncertainty seem to run amok in our day, the gifts of the Holy Spirit curtail our worrisome nature and transmute in us the zeal of the faith that can make us saints. As Peter Kreeft observed, “Our culture has filled our heads but emptied our hearts, stuffed our wallets but starved our wonder. It has fed our thirst for facts but not for meaning or mystery. It produces "nice" people, not heroes.” All of this dinginess in the culture can be corrected rather quickly if people would allow the Holy Spirit to transform them.
Earlier in John’s Gospel, Jesus said, “I have much more to tell you, but cannot bear it now. But when the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you in all truth.” (John 16:12-13). We can study psychology, science, and the whole of theology, but without the Spirit, we cannot fully comprehend and live out God’s ways. While the world is abuzz with chatter of influencers, let us allow the Holy Spirit to influence us today on Pentecost and transform our lives.