The first time I felt the cooling breeze blow through the Parish Hall, it seemed to me like a miracle, like the Holy Spirit coming not as a violent rush of wind but as a gentle current. Definitely a gift from Heaven.
I don’t know exactly when the vent fan motors were installed in the Parish Hall, or exactly when they stopped working. But I’m guessing the answer to both questions is sometime long before air conditioning became commonplace in Colorado. I remember a time when few buildings here were air conditioned because it only ever really got hot enough to need it on a handful of days in July and August. Fans were usually sufficient.
Now, of course, with global temperatures rising and development causing Denver and its suburbs to heat up, those of us without access to air conditioning spend more than a few days in too-warm discomfort.
Which brings us to the vent, located in the wall above the piano in the Parish Hall. No one seemed to know why it was there or what purpose it served. The button and timer below it didn’t do anything.
Then along came John McCormac, who had agreed to take on oversight of our bathroom construction project. He crawled around in places above the ceiling I didn’t even know existed and discovered the long-dead vent fan motors. He called on his friend Bob Cec, an electrician, to come take a look and see if they could resurrected.
It took some doing, and both men emerged dirty and sweaty from their above-the-ceiling efforts, but they succeeded in getting the motors running again. It’s old-fashioned cooling technology, but now, when the windows are open, and the motors are turned on, the vent will draw air around the room. Not cold air, mind you. It’s not air conditioning. But it’s fresh air, turning a stuffy, uncomfortable room into a much more pleasant place to be.
As some of my clergy friends are fond of saying, “That’ll preach.” There’s more than one metaphorical lesson here. How many times do we bemoan our lack of resources, when all we really need is a fresh breeze to blow out the stuffiness, to help us learn to enjoy what we already have? How often is the answer to a problem sitting right there in our midst, unnoticed and unappreciated? Often, I suspect.
So when we’re in a place of discomfort, we might be wise to look around and see what unexpected gifts God might have placed at our disposal. We might just discover the Holy Spirit, blowing through like a fresh breeze. Thanks be to God.