Count on God’s promise of joy

Curtis Shelburne

I began writing this particular column a week ago. The wind had been howling all day long.

Someone has said that nothing in nature is more beautiful than gently falling snow and the pristine glittering blanket it creates. I agree. But if that’s on one end of beauty’s scale, a wind-begotten brown dust-storm is on the other.

I dislike intense wind intensely. Or, to be more accurate, I despise dust-storms. I’m told that wind by itself, without dust and debris flying about in it, is much less objectionable. But if the wind blows here, it blows brown. Nasty. Maddening. Depressing. Disgusting. Soul-parching. Supply your own list of depressing adjectives.

On the night before that particular Monday’s particular onslaught of airborne particulate matter, a “weather-person” on one of our local TV channels promised “spring-like” weather. In New England that might be a different sort of promise, but I knew what it usually means here.

In some parts of the country, “spring” conjures up images of new life, verdant vegetation springing forth, the green guarantee of fruitful fertility. It does here, too. But here it also brings up images of new vegetation being sandblasted into dry death and early decay, innocent new blades of greenery poking their little heads up and then wishing they could dive back under the ground’s cover and dig back into the dirt to keep from being jerked up by their roots and cast dead into the brown stratosphere by gale-force winds.

“Spring-like.” The weather gal meant unseasonably warm. She also meant wind, wind, more wind, and blowing dirt.

A pox on “spring-like”! It’s January, for goodness’ sake! It’s barely been officially winter for a month and already we’re being attacked by “spring-like”! I’d prefer “winter-like” any day over the wind howling outside my door and the dirt piling up on the window-sill. Give me “12 degrees and calm”! Away with “70 degrees and brown”! We’ll get spring-like soon enough.

I’d already been thinking such dismal dust-driven thoughts a week before the Sunday that followed that Monday. That Sunday the wind hit in the middle of the night. Not good. Long before church time, acres of farmland had already taken to the air and were flying by. Caught by 60- mph winds, the front door of the church was pretty much ripped off its hinges. Why not? Coming unhinged in that mess seemed completely understandable.

But worship was warm anyway and surprisingly (to me) joyful even on that day. And, also surprising, that evening and the next morning were sunny and calm and still, beautiful by anyone’s reckoning.

Maybe there’s a parable here. In this fallen world, the winds of trouble and pain will blow, kicking up dust and suffering. We can count on that. But we can also count on our Father’s promise that “joy comes in the morning.” The God of all beauty and joy, who once told the wind where to get off as he said, “Peace, be still,” will have the last word.