Sunday | October 22, 2017
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Spiritual discipline of the wind

Iremember James Taylor’s lyrics:

“I’ve been walking my mind through an easy time/ My back turned towards the sun/ Lord knows when the cold wind blows it will turn your head around.”

I lie in bed, and listen to the wind howl like banshees. Ah, the banshee. In aboriginal Europe (Gaelics, Pics, Welsh, Scots, Norse, etc.), she is a mythic female spirit arising from the underworld, often as an omen of death. She wails when someone is about to die.

The glass of my bedroom windows moans in an almost (but not quite) imperceptible low frequency. The frame of my house groans. The leaves of my backyard trees rustle and rattle as the rise and fall of a siren.

Wind is consequential. It is the stuff of legend. It cannot and will not be ignored.

Wind is my least favorite meteorological event.

I’m good with hot. I was born and raised in hot — the Sonoran Desert. When Las Vegans complain of heat, I tell them they don’t know anything about hot.

As a boy, I watched local news teams broadcast the annual, unofficial Phoenix festival of frying an egg on the sidewalk. I lived in Phoenix in the summer of 1990, the year they closed Sky Harbor International Airport for a few hours because Boeing aircraft had not been tested for takeoff and landing in temperatures of more than 120 degrees.

Heat is a phenomenon, filling me with awe and wonder.

I’m good with rain.

As a desert dweller, I view rain as a precious gift. I am exhilarated when it pounds with fury, hurling tablespoon-size drops down from the heavens. Or, other times, the gentle, endless hours of pitter-pat drizzle soaking the ground slowly and deeply. It’s contemplative. The smell of the desert after rain is ecstasy, nostalgia and hope. It makes me grateful.

Lightning and thunder make me crazy. Especially at night. Good crazy. Flash! In that nanosecond, my yard is illuminated as bright as a major league baseball field. Then, the drumroll and … Ka-BOOM! It is delicious to be so humbled by something so much bigger, older and wiser than I am. Yet, I, the mere mortal, am invited to behold the power. To revel in it.

I’m good with cold.

I went to undergraduate college in Flagstaff, Ariz. My sophomore year, we had 18 consecutive days when the thermometer didn’t make it to 0. When my eldest son and I make our annual trek to Green Bay to watch our heroes play football, we pick a late fall or winter game because the “frozen tundra” cold of Lambeau Field is, well, part of the tradition of being a Packer fan, not to mention we enjoy making fun of the Vikings and the Lions playing in their wussie domes.

Cold invigorates me.

I like the feel of sweaters, tweed jackets and fleece blankets, the weight of a down comforter in my bed.

I’m good with snow.

In Flagstaff, it can drop 18 inches of snow so fast you can almost see it rise off the ground. The air becomes supernaturally quiet. Sound travels with eerie acuity. Time and space seem to shift.

It’s sublime.


So beautiful.

But wind — ugh! I’ve been in Las Vegas since 1996. These last few weeks have been difficult for me.

Wind makes me crazy, and not the good kind of crazy I mentioned above.

Wind makes me anxious and irritable. Restless. A friend of mine is a deer hunter, and he tells me tha, during wind storms, the deer bed down. Hide. Because they don’t feel safe. The wind confuses their olfaction and their hearing.

The wind pushes me.

Pulls me.

It complicates the way I get in and out of my car in tight parking lots, threatening to rip the door out of my hand and waving into the side of another car.

It worries and whips the items I’m trying to carry in or out of the office. It turns my hair into the coiffure of a mad scientist. It frames my eyes into a permanent squint. It drives me from my back porch meditative sanctuary.

I’ve been wondering this spring whether there is a way to make peace with wind. To change the way I see it and think about it.

Is there such a thing as a meteorological spiritual director?

With a specialty in the spiritual discipline of wind?

Steven Kalas is a behavioral health consultant and counselor at Las Vegas Psychiatry and the author of “Human Matters: Wise and Witty Counsel on Relationships, Parenting, Grief and Doing the Right Thing” (Stephens Press). Contact him at


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