Order of Friars Minor Franciscans of Canada

Brother Wind, Air and the Cloud

Brother Wind, Air and the Cloud

In this painting by Van Gogh, A Wheatfield with cypresses, the wind is beautifully drawn, and it is present throughout the fields and the sky. In the foreground, we are pleasantly surprised by the ripe corn field that sways in the wind. Above, clouds appear in a new light with arabesques, creating the impression that they’re swirling in the sky. On the right, two cypresses twist into the sky, with tormented forms.

A Wheatfield and the cypresses

If Francis of Assisi had wanted to add to his Canticle of brother Sun our brothers the animals, he probably would have placed our brothers the birds with brothers wind and air, as well as clouds. I imagine that his praise to the Lord by brother wind would have been preceded by a poetic text about the preaching to the birds, similar to that found in the libretto of Olivier Messiaen’s opera Saint Francis of Assisi: “Brothers birds, in all times and places, praise your Creator. He gave you the freedom to fly, presaging in this the gift of agility. He gave you the air, the clouds, the sky, brother sun and brother wind to guide your journeys. Food and drink, he gave you, and the tall trees, and grass, and moss for your nests, and all the adornment of rich colors, in double and triple raiment. He allowed you to sing so marvelously that you speak without words, like the speech of the angels, by music alone.”

Praised be You, my Lord, through brother wind, and through the air, the clouds and the serene sky, and every kind of weather, through whom You give sustenance to your creatures.

In reading this verse, a question can easily come to mind: why does Francis show such attachment to brother wind and his brother ‘Air, clouds and serene sky, and every kind of weather?’

“Paradoxical as it may seem, writes Eloi Leclerc, the Canticle of brother Sun is transformed here into that of all climate. And the wind blowing in storm and which brings rain or hail is blessed in the same way as the sunny breeze. Francis does not choose the climate. He is open and welcoming to the four winds of creation (…) In this praise ‘for all climate’, Francis explains: ‘by them you give support to your creatures.’ Welcomed in all of its manifestations, brother wind is here directly associated with creative work. He is recognized as the collaborator of the Creator, as one who brings support – strength and vigor – to the various creatures.”

«St Francis calls the wind his brother. And wind has indeed been a brother to humanity in a very special way for as long as there have been sailing ships and windmills. These have been replaced, of course, by the more sophisticated and technical inventions of modern times. Yet, all the while, the wind has gone on blowing. Now it has called us back to itself. We have realized that it is an important energy source… Wind power is of the highest ecological significance. Therefore not only can we call the wind our brother; the wind itself has fraternal love for us.» (Eric Doyle)

Winds! all bless he Lord : Birds of heaven! all bless he Lord: give glory and eternal praise to him!

Georges Morin, ofm