March Newsletter | From Where the Wind Blows

Greetings Deaconess Community,

It is my honor to share with you the first of many columns to come that I penned for The St. Louis American. Published earlier this month, Blow, Wind Blow, is also the title of the message my beloved father, Essel Emmanuel Johnson, was most known for preaching.

Originally published: March 9, 2023

As I still myself to write, I am keenly aware that the area that I live in is under a wind advisory. The sound of the wind blowing and gusting heightens my senses like the doe that stops all movement and perks up her ears to determine how she will respond to even the slightest detection of a change in her surroundings. There is direct biblical connection to wind blowing and the move of the Spirit. I am paying close attention with curiosity, posing a question to me and to the Beloved Community, “What is the Spirit saying?” and “What is the wind advising?”

Wind, simply put, is movement in the air. What is stirring in our atmosphere?


I, like so many of you, have had to say, “see you in the morning” to what feels like a wave of precious elders who belonged to generations that preceded our own. I am acutely aware of the pace pickup in which my generation (Gen X) and the Millennial generation (the fastest growing generation, recently surpassing Baby Boomers) are called upon to bring our interpretation of a just, inclusive, and healed future into being. But, before I can generate faith, energy, and forward momentum to inspire and lead with my peers and mentors in this region and the nation, there’s a speed bump before me asking for me to take notice, slow down and clear it first…


We need more spaces and time set aside to mourn and to lament for the weight of loss and for what we’ve lost. Lamentation is the way we process grief in the presence of God. It is the speed bump that presents itself, an often-missed step in the process of becoming whole again. Lamentation is a necessary healing practice to re-introduce into Western culture when we can admit that we haven’t fully come to terms with what the death of seven million people around the world means to bereaved children, families, and societies caused by COVID-19 global pandemic on psychological, social, spiritual, and economic levels.

What is stirring in the atmosphere is the call to stop pretending that we can lead with clear-eyed vision without a pause to attend to lamenting over seasons and eras of time that have now passed that will never be again and to tend to deep hurts, no matter the cause. All is not well with our souls. It is necessary to admit the truth that invites healing to come.

To read winds correctly, one must know from where the wind is blowing.

From mental models that reinforce a single right way to endless possibilities and ways to get, “there.”

From leadership styles that value patriarchy, hierarchy, and transactional ways of DOING to sharing power and holding space in transformational ways of BEING.

From work sourced in fear and pain to vocation sourced in love and joy.

From valuing textbooks and playbooks to experience and leading by discernment being our best guide.

From our obsession to focus on THE HOW to being content to focus on THE WHY and sharing values.

From strategic planning in 5- and 10-year increments to prophetic imagination looking generationally 50,100, 500+ years into the future.

This is my interpretation of the winds of change that are blowing. It is up to each of us to understand and interrogate meaning for ourselves in the ways that our spiritual practices guide. My encouragement is to embrace the change of season beckoning the wind to, “Blow, Wind Blow.”

In service to the will of the Spirit and the mission,

Bethany Johnson-Javois
President & CEO
Deaconess Foundation

Read the full March eNewsletter here.