We took a drive today.
Yes, this is worth noting. It is not something we have done often up in these northern parts. The crazy differences in driving conditions, environment, unfamiliarity with so much, adventure+risk fatigue… just meant that this was the first time we had ventured out so far towards the mountains not that far from our town.
It was glorious.
The sun was shining, ice on the waters is beginning to melt and the mountains were boasting of God’s creativity.
There was so much to take in as we drove, and I relished the little details as well as the big canvas of splendour around us.
The thousands of ice sculptures on the sides of the road particularly drew my attention on this drive.
At this time in the year, that snow piled up on the edges of roads is filthy. It has been scraped, dumped with sand (they don’t use salt to keep roads clear up here),mixed and jumbled, driven over.
While we were driving this reminded me of some crazy experiences I had in the ocean when I was young. We loved sea holidays and swimming through the waves. I never was a great swimmer, and struggled to judge the timing of waves. And there is not one person who braved the seas who was not caught up and sand-washed by the waves around the coast lines of South Africa.
There were a few occasions that I just got it all wrong. I may or may not have had a chance to gulp some air (mixed with salty water) before being churned and turned, scraped along the gravelly bottom, twisted and seethed through writhing waters, only to be dumped in shallower waters with a costume full of gravel-tailings and a nose dripping with sandy brine.
Sometimes the waves would roll me around and around and around so that the sand rubbed hard and I did not know which way was up.
For only a short while of the year, and sometimes they exist for only hours, these abstractions line the roads.
I was fascinated. No two sculptures can be the same. Some are larger and more stylish. Some are small, mucky and really ugly.
But on days like today there is something really enchanting about each one.
Between all the muck, dirt and bits picked up along the way, these carvings shine.
The multitude of little parts together glisten and sparkle.
While looking for good words to describe the phenomenon that causes these carvings, the word “abrade” made such sense.
scrape or wear away by friction or erosion.
"it was a landscape slowly abraded by a fine, stinging dust"
This has been our experience over the last several months. The winter, with its long darkness, freezing snows, and gnawing endlessness really wears through the soul (especially for those so used to African sunshine). The relentless brokenness that we see all around us tears into me.
It has been especially difficult for Deon: he has tried new wood techniques that have proved to be far more challenging to sell than imagined. Each disappointment sent another whirl of eroding grains, tearing away at his sense of purpose and value.
There have been many grey, sombre, miserable days. There were a few gleams of diamonds if the moon shone, but it was not like this kind of day.
Between all of the mess in the world, the uncertainty in South Africa, the challenges of not being able to travel because of documents held up in the process, the desperation to see spiritual captives set free in this place, the tests seem relentless. Winds carrying a mass of scouring particles swirl about us.
This should not ever be seen as a surprise for a believer.
There is a purpose: to gleam in the reflection of the Great Light of I Am. To shine back at Him, and reflect His light to a world in need of encouragement.
"But he knows where I am going. And when he tests me, I will come out as pure as gold.” (Job 23:10)