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Sacred Wind

A feather on the breath of God.
-Hildegard of Bingen

On a day
when the wind is perfect,
the sail just needs to open and the world is full of beauty.
Today is such a


The wind blows where it wills, and you can hear the sound it makes, 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

And suddenly there came from the sky a noise like a strong driving wind, and it filled the entire house in which they were. Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire, which parted and came to rest on each one of them. And they were all filled with the holy Spirit and began to speak in different tongues, as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim. 
-Acts 2:2-4

The wind is invisible to us, we can only see what is carried within it or its effects.  Hildegard, that great 12th century mystic offered us this image: To be a feather on the breath of God.  What would it mean to allow oneself to be carried through life by the holy breath of the One who first breathed life into us?  Or as Denise Levertov offers, to be a hawk resting upon the air that sustains it.  How might we lean into the Source that supports and buoys us and trust the direction it takes?  Can you allow your sails to open fully knowing that the wind blows where it wills?

-Christine Valters Paintner

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14 Responses

  1. That is beautiful Heather! Thanks for pointing me toward it, I didn’t realize it was a feather until I enlarged the image. She was an amazing woman, I did a lot on her in my studies because she truly is an inspiration.

  2. Christine,

    Ten years ago I painted an image of Hildegarde with her feather. It’s posted on my website under ‘Sacred Images’.

    She has been an inspiration in my life for many creative moments–floating, dancing and painting!


  3. Thanks Wendy! You are right, there is something so magical about birds and feathers and when they appear it is good to pay attention!

    Cheryl, so good to hear from you. I am delighted this image spoke to where you find yourself now.

    Blessings to you, Christine

  4. Christine,

    At this time when I am waiting for the next move in my life, it seems incredible to wonder what it would be like to be like a feather on the wind of God. Thank you!

  5. I really loved this Christine. The air is just pure magic, whenever i even find a feather it leaves me in awe really because they FLEW.

    Blessed New Year (guess i love saying that still) : ) Wendy

  6. I agree with you Tripp, I think we live in a culture of control and then when we experience a profound loss we have no resources to deal with it. I love the image of Odysseus and the wind, reminds me of the Celtic perigrinatio who would get into a boat and follow where it took them.

    Hi Lorna, thanks for the poem, it’s been windy here in Seattle too.

    Rich, I had no idea that you had such a love of wind. The casket image is hilarious! Sounds like your ashes should be scattered into the wind. You are most welcome!

    Thank you for your very poetic response Bette! How lovely to carry a feather with you as a reminder.

    Blessings! Christine

  7. To find a feather in your path! or two or three even. Symbols of Blessings from God. Such flowing comes from your breath of God carving and feathers waiting to be caught up in the Holy Spirit. A feather always rides with me in my car to remind me of these things.

    Hugs :)

  8. Wind has ALWAYS spoken to me of the Holy Spirit. In some of my darkest nights of the soul, I can always rely upon the sensation of air moving across the hairs on my arms to remind me I’m never alone.

    My friends joke that I’m so enamored of the wind that I’ll be getting a specially made casket with a fan in it.

    Thank you for the blessing you bring to this community through your sharing of your many gifts!

  9. just today Iwas thinking of the poem

    who has seen the wind -neither you nor I …

    probably cos it’s been very windy here in Tallinn

  10. This is the trouble with vocation…and the spiritual life in general. I think many of us want results and not an invisible upholding. We don’t care to be blown about. Why else would we be so achievement oriented or celebrate those who seem to be in control of their lives? We are to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps and not to be blown around by some wind.

    Odysseus was blown around by an ill wind, and it was seen as a curse…10 years of wandering away from his love and his title. But what if, just imagine, what if the ten year were a gift to him, a journey to find more than himself, but to find God in his life working with him and using him for God’s own purpose.

    We call these blessings in disguise, but I am thinking that the disguise are our own illusions…our own misconstrual of what it means to live according to God’s will.