At this year’s Academy Awards ceremony, the creators of a critically acclaimed 6-1/2 minute movie will learn if they will be taking home the Oscar in the “Best Short Film, Animated” category. Their feature, well timed for Valentine’s Day, is “Paperman” (Walt Disney Animation Studios).
It’s the story of a young man who shares a brief greeting with a young woman on a city train platform when the wind blows a sheet of paper into her face. As the story develops, the wind is the force that drives the plot and brings resolution. For me it hints at the biblical idea of wind as symbolic of divine Spirit, the active, intelligent force that guides and governs.
I’m not saying that wind literally pushes or pulls men and women along the sidewalk toward their destinies with any frequency, as happens in “Paperman.” But I am saying that the action of wind symbolizes one of the ways that Spirit operates. Knowledge of this can be helpful for those on a quest to find something, whether it’s a right relationship or something else.
The idea of wind in its meaning that is analogous to the action of Spirit is woven through the Bible. In the story of the Jewish ruler Nicodemus’s encounter with Jesus, Jesus says: “The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit” (John 3:8, New International Version). The Greek word (pneuma) that’s translated “wind” in this passage is the same one that’s translated “Spirit.”
Similarly, in the Old Testament, the Hebrew word ruach is translated as “wind” as well as “spirit.” The second verse of the Bible states, “[T]he spirit [ruach] of God moved upon the face of the waters.”
How is this relevant in helping us realize a fulfilling goal in our own lives? Mary Baker Eddy, the author of the Christian Science textbook, “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” described "wind," in part, as indicating “the might of omnipotence and the movements of God’s spiritual government, encompassing all things” (p. 597). And a hymn in the “Christian Science Hymnal” depicts the exalting effect of God’s windlike action: “Blow, winds of God, awake and blow/ The mists of earth away” (John Greenleaf Whittier, No. 142).
In an age in which many people are relying more on new methods of forming relationships, such as Internet-dating websites, how can individuals trust that Spirit is governing and guiding each of us into right, fulfilling relationships or to the solution to any quest?
In the animated world of “Paperman,” the guiding force of the wind proved most effective when the young man abandoned his human effort. He was then swept up in the guiding power of the wind, which overcame all obstacles and frustrations, intelligently transforming the efforts he had made. And so Spirit operates in our own lives. When we are willing to trust God instead of our own contrived efforts, Spirit will take over, though it may take a subtle rather than a dramatic form – more like a gentle breeze than a gale.
The humble acknowledgment that God is the source of all intelligence and guidance will help bring our thought into accord with Spirit, and we can expect that the impetus of Spirit will bring right inspiration and direction to our search for whatever we might be searching for, whether it’s a relationship, a job, or a desire to know God better. As Mrs. Eddy said, “Spirit, God, gathers unformed thoughts into their proper channels, and unfolds these thoughts, even as He opens the petals of a holy purpose in order that the purpose may appear” (Science and Health, p. 506).
This is true because Spirit, Mind, is infinite, knows all, and can foresee consequences and implications beyond the capacity of the human mind. This includes bringing ideas into right relationship.
For the couple in “Paperman,” the force of the wind proved irresistible and brought a resolution that human ingenuity failed to provide. In real life, the action of Spirit can overcome challenges and bring intelligent resolutions to relationship quests even when obstacles seem insurmountable.
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