This painting by John David Waterhouse may not seem like "sacred art" at first glance. There are no angels, no bearded prophets, no sign or symbol of the Holy Spirit, the Virgin Mary, or Christ Himself. But look again.
"We are bid to color all things with hues of faith, to see a divine meaning in every event" wrote Blessed John Henry Newman.
Since the Word became flesh, "every thing is holy now," sang the artist Peter Mayer.
This image captivated me when I first saw it, as many images do from this school of painters known as the Pre-Raphaelites. It's called "Boreas," named for the Greek god of the north wind. But where is he? Look again. We see the evidence of his presence in the billowing folds of the young maiden's veil. We feel his weight leaning on the trees and the thick grass at her feet. He is literally everywhere, enveloping her, thick as the painted strokes on the canvas and at the same time just as fluid.
Every ancient myth holds a glimmer of the gospel. The truth that God desires an intimate union with us has always shimmered along the thin webs of history, spanning the millennia and traversing all histories and cultures. Perhaps Boreas was a precursor of the Holy Spirit, coming in the warm breath of spring to the tender heart of Mary, initiating, offering, invigorating.
Overshadowed by this Wind from Heaven, the woman covers herself. Perhaps she is awestruck, not by the force of the wind but by its chaste passion for her and its potential fruitfulness and life-changing power. Should she turn? Should she face that flow of power, open her heart and let Him fill her? Where will this wind take her should she open the sails of her soul to its power? We know the answer Mary gave and the path her life took. But when the Wind of the Spirit blows upon me, where will I turn? In what direction will I be taken?
Originally written for the TOB Institute Newsletter