Wild is the wind

“The wind is wild tonight, there’s battle in the air.
“The wind is from the west and it seems to come from Clare.”

These lines from poetess Emily Lawless speak of the eve of the Battle of Fontenoy (May 11, 1745) when the charge of the Irish Brigade turned back the English forces in the battle with the French. It speaks to the anticipation of a fierce battle with an old foe.

Last week, while we did not anticipate a bloody battle with an old foe, we did anticipate a battle with the elements and braced ourselves for an onslaught from the winds and rains of Hurricane Lane. By Wednesday the grocery store’s picture windows were all boarded up and we were informed that the store would be closed on Thursday and Friday. Also the post office and the administration office would be closed, the planes would not fly and the trail would not be open for visitors. We were ready for battle. 

While in the Bahamas in the 1990s, I had escaped any damage from the hurricanes that frequently hit those islands. However, I figured that luck would run out on me sooner or later. So I was prepared to take cover in a closet, or the bathroom tub, or under the house with my five cats.

Still Thursday came and passed, then Friday and, while the storm continued to batter the Big Island with winds and torrential rains and later Maui, we here in Kalaupapa experienced winds like our welcome trade winds, and rain that fell softly like it does on Irish fields so frequently, giving nourishment to the grasses and plants. It would certainly seem that our two saints, Damien and Marianne, were working round the clock to protect us from harm and destruction. For this we are most grateful to the Lord.

I believe it was Johnny Mathis, back in the 1950s, who gave us the love song “Wild is the Wind,” later to be sung by David Bowie and others. Over the centuries there have been sailors, songsters and poets who have given praise to the winds and at times cursed their presence or absence. Here in Kalaupapa we praise the Lord for our cooling trade winds and we thank the Lord that our recent winds have not been too wild. 


Anchor columnist Father Killilea is pastor of St. Francis Parish in Kalaupapa, Hawaii.

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