Many years ago Carla and I lived in an apartment in Boulder, Colorado. The complex consisted of a pair of two story brick buildings. The front doors of all the apartments faced a central courtyard. As a result, we got to know most of our neighbors. Strangely, all these years later, the neighbor I most vividly remember is the one I knew the least.
I can't recall his name but I had been told by the other neighbors that he was a Buddhist--a serious
Buddhist. As a Christian, I found this mildly disturbing, since I looked at adherents to other religions as being spiritually lost and blind. Boulder was then, and still is, a place of religious diversity and the tendency of many Christians was to adopt a mentality of defensiveness and exclusivity. This was my mentality.
As I think back now, he must have been about ten, maybe fifteen years older than I was--tall, fit, close cropped hair but a long bushy beard. He lived alone. The curtains of the living room window to his ground floor apartment were usually kept open. The decor inside was austere: a sturdy wooden table in the center of the room with nothing on it; two similarly plain and sturdy wooden chairs; no pictures on the walls; no bric-a-brac except for three smooth stones on the window sill.
I only recall speaking to the man once. It was a windy day (Boulder is known for periodically violent winds which occur when westbound weather systems race headlong across the plains only to crash up against the north-south barrier of the Rocky Mountains. Diverted sideways, these winds cascade down the foothills; sometimes in excess of 100 miles per hour). He was standing outside, looking at the western sky as I passed on my way to my apartment. "Man, don't you hate this wind?" I said. He looked at me and smiled slightly. "No, I find it refreshing."
A few weeks later the police came to my door with questions about the man. Did I know him? Did I know of any relatives he might have? They were tight-lipped about the reason for their inquiry but I eventually learned that the man had fallen to his death while rock climbing in the Flatirons. I like to think that in his last moments he felt the wind and saw the sky and was at peace.
Carla and I now live in Seattle, a place that also experiences periodic windstorms. Today, 40 mile per hour gusts blew up from the south-southwest; causing the massive cedars to sway and hiss; shedding pinecones and snapping limbs. "This is terrible!", Carla exclaimed as we walked briskly across the parking lot from our car to the supermarket. "Oh, I don't know," I replied, turning my face into the rainy wind, "I find it kind of refreshing."