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Extreme Conditions

Nina Vanska | The Voice of Zion November 2021 --

The weather forecast calls for extreme winds. Up here in the Mono hills it means more than extreme, because it is always more or less windy here. I scan the yard for anything that may take off in the wind and make sure it is put into the garage or shop. Windy is nice in many ways; I don’t think we have seen more than ten mosquitos per year, and one of my favourite things is hanging laundry to dry on the clothesline. It dries quickly. Or then it takes off with the wind.

If the wind takes a break on a summer day, the muggy humid heat keeps the doors closed. On the mid-October days when I call my dad in Finland and he can barely see through the dark and rainy dreariness of a Finnish fall, I don’t miss my former home country. I feel the balmy wind and see the brilliant colours of maples donning the endless hills. But then in winter there are the bitter cold conditions when the northwestern wind combined with the lake-effect snow and polar vortex make one wonder why we are living here in Ontario.

Extremes are always uncomfortable. I have come to notice this not only with the weather, but in many areas of life, even when visiting with other believers. We all have our quirks and things we may even feel passionate about, but somehow it is so much easier to be with those who, in their opinions, mellow in the middle. Maybe some are thoughtful enough to keep the stronger opinions about temporal matters under their hats. Not everyone even feels strongly about things like health, politics, lifestyle or even the pandemic we have experienced. Personally, I feel even a bit anxious around conversations about such things as whether to vaccinate one’s children, which party or politician is doing things right or wrong, or if red meat is good for you. Sometimes conversations cause one to feel like an outsider, not belonging, if one disagrees even quietly in their mind.

When the wind picks up, and things start flapping and flying, it does get scary. There is going to be some level of damage, I think, as I note the darkening clouds and check my phone for tornado warnings; there is a tornado watch. I usher the children downstairs and hope everyone is safe. I quickly send a WhatsApp message to the ladies’ group: be careful, the storm is heading east.

There have been some storms even inside the walls of Zion; we can see the dark clouds from afar, and sense the barometer shifting, even though we have been spared from the eye of the storm. There is danger in the winds in our time: they are shifting, funneling and swirling even unexpectedly. I remember once at the Finnish suviseurat, gazing into the sky with many others, as some camping mattresses, tarps and even small tents swirled in the summer sky above the service area: it was a small-scale funneling wind that had blown through a section of the tenting area and suctioned up light and loose items. It was actually quite funny to watch them swirling and twirling high up in the summer sky.

Just as we gather close together at our summer services and other gatherings, it is important in dangerous times to stay close to one another. Let’s leave everything that may drive us apart aside. Could they be those items that can go with the wind? Let’s huddle in our safe place together, pray for God to take care of us, protect us from harm, usher the storms away and allow the soft sprinkling of the gospel to cleanse us, the calm to return. He has promised to care for us; He wants us to be His obedient children: not boasting and strong, opinionated and haughty, but soft-spoken and humble. Going headlong into a storm is never a good idea.

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