Recently I stayed on the coast in the Western Cape. We had all sorts of weather from cold enough to have a fire, to hot enough to not want to even go outside. That’s what happens in that area. This passage describes a walk we had one delightful evening after a really hot day. I pray that it may speak to you of the love of God and His readiness to be there for us as you read it.
Yesterday was hot. It had been forecast and it came. The heat struck as I walked outside the coolness of the house. I felt as if I was walking through a wall of warmth into a different world. We avoided it as best we could, and by early evening it had cooled sufficiently to go for a walk on the island.
By now the sky was heavy and grey, the air humid with the promise of rain, yet not a breath of wind disturbed the leaves in the garden. We climbed into the car and drove along the causeway to park on the leeward shore of the island. We walked briskly through the park, beautiful with indigenous plants, lovingly tended by local residents.
The tide was coming in and slowly the mudflats were disappearing. Herons flew overhead; seagulls waded through the shallows, harvesting the fresh pickings of creatures emerging into the incoming water. A red-legged wader pecked its way through the mud, too far away for me to identify without a book, but its brightly coloured legs shone against the wet sand surrounding it.
The sky grew heavier. We made the decision to walk across the island rather than round the shoreline as we usually did. So we wove our way through the narrow lanes, enjoying the pretty gardens and the quaint homes.
The island is small, about four kilometres in circumference, so it did not take us long to walk across it. Rounding the final corner to walk down the slope to the seaward shore we stepped into a different world.
Instantly we were staggering in the strong wind. I was not sure if it had risen at that moment or if we were just sheltered from its blast by the lie of the land or the trees that had surrounded us a moment before. There had been no indication of it seconds earlier. But now we were battered by it. Hair and clothes were whipped into a frenzy. Our breath was snatched away by the ferocity of the continual onslaught and we laughed in delight as we leant into it, held up by its strength.
The water, so calm when we began our walk, was stirred into a boiling cauldron of white topped waves. They were not large in this normally sheltered stretch, but were agitated by the relentless wind. A three man canoe struggled across the chop, the rowers skilled enough to keep their balance but having to work hard to do so. Three oyster catchers flashed past, their flight hastened by the wind that roared in from the sea. Gulls soared in the up-draft, enjoying the feeling of the rising air beneath their wings. They did not seem to be as affected by the wind as the smaller birds.
It was a challenge to stand still. The gale was steady, but every now and again an unexpected gust would make us stagger to keep our balance. Eventually we sought the shelter of the trees and homes again and walked up a short road to turn into instant calm. Glancing up I could see the tops of the trees surrounding us, but even their branches were scarcely moving. The wind we had experienced was funnelled between two cliffs, into the lagoon and over the mainland behind us. Out of its path, all became calm.
I wondered how often we stand in the storm of life for too long. If we draw aside, take a path into the shelter that Christ offers us, could we deal with those storms more effectively? Could we find the strength and the peace, the calm, we need to help us to move forward? I wonder …