The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind

This column written by Dr. Bob Hayden was previously published in the print edition of The GRIP.

That title is not original with me. You may recognize it from Bob Dylan’s song of 1962. Originally penned as a war protest piece, it asks searching questions about why things happen.

Events of the past few days will provoke many of us to ask the questions again. Irma wrecked many of our homes, neighborhoods and businesses. This phenomenon of weather has cost us time, money and irreplaceable “stuff” that we treasured.

I could not help feeling like our beautiful town was wrecked as I walked or drove in Third Ward, on College Street, Maple Street, Hill Street and others. It was more than sad.

This is our town.

One estimate suggested that Irma will cost between $62-$94 billion, and that coupled with Harvey, her older brother, the cost should hit $150-$200 billion. That is as bad as Katrina, a recent horror whose effects linger still that set the economy back $160 billion.
We feel the anxiety building when we see the weather forecast, and then the news reports of what is happening in Florida. We know it’s coming our way. We who were here remember Opal here in Griffin in 1995.

We are set up for this kind of mess because Griffin is blessed with beautiful ancient oak trees whose ages we can only guess. They give us shade and beauty. The leaves they shed in the fall are pretty, even if a nuisance to rake, and they serve as a reminder with the passage of seasons that life cycles do go on. You might consider that an occasional storm with toppled trees is the price you pay for having these natural works of art in the first place.

As we dig out from under these fallen giants, the work of clearing lawns, roads and broken houses begins. The destruction in Griffin is significant and heartbreaking. It makes one pause and revisit, perhaps in different words, the questions Dylan asked.
He was not the first to ask such questions, of course. I am thinking of Noah’s neighbors, the inhabitants of Pompeii and the survivors of World Wars I and II for example. When bad things happen, we want to put some meaning to it all. Why do such things happen to us?

Dylan had no real answer at the time. He said the answer was “blowin’ in the wind.”
That seems partly appropriate for the storm just past, but it is hollow and inadequate. Such things as Irma are difficult to comprehend, indeed. However, everything looks very different when viewed through the eyes of faith.

Saul of Tarsus, who took the name Paul after his conversion from being a Pharisee rabbi to a disciple of Jesus of Nazareth (quite a conversion, really), said that in this life we see things “darkly,” as though looking through distorted glass. Someday, he said, our knowledge would be made complete when we see the living Christ face to face.

Much of Scripture is a mystery, indeed, requiring study, faith and the Spirit to guide us. This passage is rich with meaning for us, though. I have always thought that the second part of it suggests that someday we will view life through spiritual eyes, unlimited by physics.

Now we see the what, the when, the where and maybe the how, but not the why. That is when our knowledge is made complete, and when we understand life through God’s perspective.

So, perhaps the answer to why such things happen in Griffin does, in fact, blow in the wind. The eyes of faith, though, see Who makes the wind blow. He knows why the tides roll in, and why a newborn knows its mother.

Dylan himself knows that now. After asking all those searching questions, like Paul, he met the living Jesus of Nazareth. And the question changes. Once he asked “Why,” but now he knows “Who.” That changes everything.

So, Griffin, let’s clean, rebuild, comfort and love each other through this. We will be beautiful again.

This and other columns by Dr. Bob Hayden can be found at

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