Winter windIn 1934, Mount Washington, New Hampshire, recorded a regular wind speed of 231 mph—regular meaning that the phenomenon did not occur during a tornado or hurricane. More than 75 years later, this world record still holds.

Meanwhile, at Commonwealth Bay, located on the eastern coast of Antarctica, katabatic winds—downslope winds, in this case winds sliding down from the Polar Plateau—routinely hit 200 mph. Both the National Geographic Atlas and the Guinness Book of World Records have dubbed this spot "the windiest place on earth."

"Who has seen the wind? Neither you nor I,"wrote poet Christina Rossetti.

What we have seen, however, is what the wind can do. So what is the power of such a force? Some of the stories seem almost too strange to be true. For example, there's the tornado of 1947 that, while devastating Higgins, Texas, also picked a man up out of his house and set him down, unscathed, 200 feet away. And the equally miraculous 2008 story of 11-month-old Kyson Stowell, found unhurt in a Tennessee field, 100 yards away from his flattened home. 

Anyone still doubting the extraordinary strength of the wind might consider the photo of a palm tree, taken following the September 13, 1928, hurricane in Puerto Rico. The most dramatic feature of the snapshot? The 10-foot long 2 x 4 driven through the trunk of the tree.

"The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit," we read in the Gospel of John.

The wind—it is paradoxically gentle, awe-inspiringly strong, and ever out of our control.