Warning: Weather Ahead!

Warning: Weather Ahead!

Polar vortex.

I’m not sure I had heard that phrase before the winter of 2013-2014.

Now “polar vortex” is all the rage.  Everyone’s talking about it.  Unfortunately.

“Can you ever remember extreme cold coming on so quickly and lasting so long in November?” “Oh no — I hope this isn’t going to last all winter.” “I hate to think what this sudden frigid weather is doing to my perennials in my garden or my lawn!”

On and on and on.  People in Minnesota can talk about weather pretty much 24/7/365.  Because we have LOTS of it!

Weather is a big part of my life story. When I was  a little girl I lived at the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains east of Los Angeles.  Here’s the weather I remember:  HOT and dry (Santa Ana winds) in late August/September; cold (45 degrees!!) and rainy once in a while in the winter; mainly sunny and pleasant ranging to hot the rest of the year.  That was it.

When we moved to Illinois when I as 8 years old, one of my cousins was very envious. He loved weather too (maybe it’s genetic) and had heard that there were THUNDERSTORMS in Illinois.  Maybe I would get to see some thunderstorms!

By my cousin’s estimation, we here in Minnesota are really lucky.  We have it ALL when it comes to weather!

Why is weather so fascinating to many of us?  I think it is because it is something that connects us all and something that we cannot control.

My relatives that don’t live in MN are always watching our weather via TV news and weather apps.  I think they just like to gloat when it’s cold here and they’re warm.  But they also realize our weather will affect their weather.  A storm system in our region spins out tornadoes as far south as Kentucky even into Florida.  We are all connected by winds, temperatures rising and falling, rain or snow.  What we suffer through today will probably afflict my sons in Chicago tomorrow.

We can’t control the weather.  There are so many things these days that we CAN control.  But not the weather.  Therefore we watch it and try to figure out how it will affect us, what will come next.  We want to be prepared but we can’t control it.

Our theme for this year at Hope is “Hearing the Story, Living the Story, Sharing the Story.”  Stories, like weather, bring connection.  You tell your story and I recognize something similar in my story.  Our stories may interconnect in surprising ways — people we know in common, places we’ve both been. Our stories affect each other.

Our stories, like weather, also are out of our control.  But when we look at our individual stories from the perspective of God’s Big Story, we can see his guiding hand. We can see the patterns.  We can try to be prepared for the storms life brings.  And we can trust that even after a brutal winter, we’ll enjoy summer sun again.

 Judie Ritchie, Associate Pastor of Congregational Care and Inviting & Connecting Ministries