I like the wind. I don’t know why. Perhaps as a child I enjoyed going to sleep to the sound of it rustling in the trees outside my window. It denotes movement, action. It’s a comforting companion. It is not the noise of cars or trains, games or work – all human made. The wind just comes, from we don’t know where.

I have just read the story of the bride choosing her wedding dress. ‘I want one that rustles’, she said. She tried everywhere. None were available. Finally she met a seamstress who told her she could make one but it would be heavy, uncomfortable and unsightly. ‘Never mind,’ the bride-to-be said. ‘That is what I want.’ ‘OK’, said the seamstress, ‘but may I ask you why you want such a gown?’ ‘My husband-to-be is blind’, said the girl, ‘and I want him at least to hear the rustle. That way, he will know I am beside him – and will always be.’

A pretty story? Maybe! But one that bears a touching truth. ‘Know that I am with you always.’ I am not alone. I may be blind. I may feel lonely, anxious, afraid. But I am not alone. Many people, I think, feel they are alone. They sense there is no one who understands them. If they feel lost or confused, they may reach out for ‘substitutes’ – distractions that ease the pain for a while. Maybe drink, maybe drugs.

There is no need to feel alone. Traditionally, in Africa for instance, there was always the community. A person was part of something bigger than themselves. There were people they could turn to – elders or peers. But Africa is now contaminated by the individualism of the ‘developed’ world whose message is; ‘you can do it yourself.’ Be independent, be free.

Yet freedom and friendship go together. It is no diminishment of the former to enjoy the latter. In fact, it is the constant rustle of people that can hone friendship and make us strong. We build each other’s freedom in so far as we engage with them in depth.

We are told the house rustled mightily at the time of Pentecost. A mighty wind shook it. This was the climax of the drama that began in a manger. The Word pitched his tent among us and progressively taught us the way to a complete life. He chose people and called them friends. He said he would be with them always. Not as he was for those years of tramping the roads of Galilee, but as a permanent walking with each one who would answer his invitation to companionship. He would give them his Spirit to be with them always.

[Pentecost     19 May 2024     Acts 2:1-11   Rom 8:8-17         John 20:19-23]