The old two story house I grew up in is gone now. The one in the photo is a ranch home sitting in the same spot – placed there by a cousin and her husband who bought the farm years after I left…but in my head, the old house – with it’s gold colored steel siding and blue shingled roof – still sits on the little knob we thought was a hill.
Two things catch my eye in the picture. One – the current owner has extended the corral while tearing down some outer buildings. Second – the trees – those glorious Cottonwood trees that formed a band of protection to the north and west of the house. Those trees were my playground – and during harsh, North Dakota winters, probably kept us from being blown halfway to Minneapolis.
As a young boy, my room was upstairs on the north side of the house. Every night during the summer the sounds of whatever happened in those trees wafted in through the open windows. I distinctly remember laying in bed one night – probably 7 or 8 years old – hearing our small herd of cattle work their way through those trees in the dark. Stomping. Tearing grass. Snorting. Of course, in my imagination, the sounds weren’t cattle. They were a band of invaders coming to do evil. The were armed with guns and would need to be fought off. I remember thinking about it long enough that I started to wonder if it was true….there I lay in the dark, scared stiff, both fists clenched, in mortal fear of the band of marauding Black Angus in the trees.
The other sound I remember was that of the wind. It seemed ever present on the plains, with precious little to stop it between the Canadian provinces and the Rio Grande. The Rockies to the west and civilization to the east provided natures’ biggest wind tunnel. I was in college in Missouri the first time I saw rain fall straight down. I remember staring at it like it was an unnatural phenomenon.
When the cows weren’t invading, I’d lay there in that room and listen to the wind through the trees. Sometimes roaring, sometimes faint, but always blowing. Always moving. The tops of those some of trees have been in motion for eighty years.
I’ve fallen into the habit of listening to the Bible while reading it lately. The combination of reading along with a narrator forces me to slow down – to hear and read a word at once has a tremendous impact. It also gives one time to remember.
This morning, I listened to and read 2 Samuel 5 – a passage where David is preparing to invade the enemy. He’s told by God “When you hear a sound like marching feet in the tops of the poplar trees, be on the alert! That will be the signal that the Lord is moving ahead of you…”.
I couldn’t help but wonder – why wind in the trees? Honestly, that sound is a little subjective. How much is enough? How loud is loud enough? Was that God or a whirlwind?
I can hear David and his men debating “Was that it? Go? No go? AAAAGH! Why did Oral Roberts get a 900 foot Jesus and I’m told to wait for the wind in the trees?!?!?”
Of course, as the story goes, David hears the wind, gets it right, and moves out to kill the enemy. Later he rightly attributes the whole victory to God, who went before Him…but to David’s credit, he heard the wind. And he recognized the timing.
There is a fine art to recognize the wind in it’s proper form….to hear the angels moving before you and then to follow boldly, sword drawn, committed to the battle on nothing more than the whisper of the wind.
I’m tuning my ear this morning – craning my neck and closing my eyes. I think I hear something. Time and history will tell the full story, but I don’t want to be found sitting on the edge of my bed hoping for one more sign once the wind blown by me.
I want to go with it. Blow, wind….blow.
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