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The purpose of a wind chime is trying to measure what we cannot see.

If you can see the wind, you’re probably in a tornado. That’s a bad deal, and you’re merely seeing dirt, destruction, and insurance payouts swirling around you, not the wind.

In trying to find images in my photo hoard to illustrate wind, what turns up on a search for “wind” is interesting in that it is a collection of images that have nothing to do with wind other than they exhibit the action of wind on something in the photo. They are generally unrelated to each other.

Photos of waves and flapping flags came up. Images of woodwind instruments I’d drawn, and paintings of blimps. Lots of wind turbines and sailboats. Old steam threshing machines. A small school band with a tuba and some baritones.

We don’t see wind.

We merely see what it does.

“Can you see God? You haven't seen him? I've never seen the wind. I see the effects of the wind, but I've never seen the wind. There's a mystery to it.” ― Billy Graham

“I have recently attached a wind chime to the deck pole near my bedroom. At first it was lovely. The light chiming and the breeze and all,” I wrote years ago, in a blog post about the wind.

But then I noted that the noise began to make me uneasy in my sleep.

“What is the purpose of a wind chime? To announce the arrival of the wind?” I wondered. “I'm trying to think of all the different ways the wind presents itself.”

My list then was more poetic than it is now.

“Kites. Birds. Tumbleweeds. Plastic bags clinging to chain link or barbed wire fence. A canoe blown across choppy water and sinking on the other side so a person has to wade out into the cold water when the wind has died down to bail it out and retrieve it (true story). The roaring finger of God, in the form of a tornado, wiping out farms and towns and dreams. A spiraling hurricane cutting across the water and the nation.”

There are a lot of things we can’t exactly see, touch, or hear. We merely have to rely on the ways we’ve come to measure their effects as a way to know when something is present and at work.

How and what we measure can end up defining the invisible thing, without us ever being aware that we’ve got it all wrong.

We’ve measured the foot of the tiger, and counted its claws, instead of noticing the gaping mouth rushing in. We measure the presence of a virus and assign deaths to it, instead of noticing the deaths associated with our attempts to quell the spread of the virus. We measure the gust of wind by how much racket the wind chime makes.

It’s really tough to measure what we know is out there but cannot see precisely.

I continue to go to church on Sundays because of this.


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