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  • Maggie Wallem Rowe

Hei fra Norge! Hello from Norway!

“No Bad Weather”… Seriously?

 

If there were an app that could forecast the weather of the heart, how might yours read this week?


Mike and I arrived in Stavanger last Thursday afternoon after blessedly uneventful connecting flights from Charlotte, Boston, and Amsterdam.


As our KLM jet prepared to land, we craned our necks to spot familiar landmarks from previous trips— Hafrsfjord, where the battle to unite Norway as one kingdom was held over a millennium ago— Sverd i fjell, the three swords “buried” to symbolize the now-united country—and most important to us, our little community of Røyneberg,  where we are staying once again in the cozy guest apartment of North Sea Baptist’s parsonage.

 

Even the weather is familiar. Late winter here in southwestern Norway is typically cool and rainy, but you’d never know that from the behavioral patterns of the Norwegians.


Mike works out several times each week at the local outdoor pool. On Saturday, he was swimming in the snow. This week is winter break, and he was amazed yesterday to see hordes of small children gleefully splashing each other in the wading pool in 38˚F temps!


Sverd i fjell (Swords in Rock) on Hafrsfjord

On our first trip here five years ago, new friends cheerfully taught us a popular Norsk rhyme: Det finnes ikke dårlig voer, bare darlig klær. There is no bad weather, only bad clothing.”  These pragmatic people swim, bike, walk, and hike whatever the weather. They simply know how to prepare for it.

 

How’s your internal climate lately? Could any of these describe your current emotional state?


Sunny today with no chance of rain.

Overcast with thunderstorm watch.

Barometric pressure rising rapidly.

Hurricane activity with potential upgrade to clinical depression.


It would be lovely if every day were as sunny as San Diego and as flower-scented as Honolulu.  Rain would fall gently only during nighttime, and squalls would quickly settle. No bad weather ever. Seriously?

 

But maybe you’re pulling out your anorak right now, and the moisture running down your face isn’t raindrops.

 

How do you navigate the weather of the heart – those emotional conditions more wildly unpredictable than any polar vortex or bomb cyclone?

 

I’ve been taking a few lessons from experienced weather-wranglers.

 

First, accept life-conditions as they are, not as you’d like them to be. 


Homes in our neighborhood - look at the size of the windows!

Light in Norway is a precious commodity, with as little as 6-7 hours of winter sunlight in the south and none in the north. To accommodate, many Norwegians build their homes with exceptionally large windows to make the most of the limited light.

 

Acceptance isn’t a popular position in the “live your best life now” era, but the wisdom of the spiritually weathered knows that peace accompanies acceptance of that which we cannot change. Jesus taught that the rain falls on the just and unjust alike, while the sun shines on both the evil and the good.

 

We manage our expectations by working with what is, not what we wish it to be. Capture that elusive light wherever you can.

 

Secondly, anticipate periods of physical or emotional stress and adjust for it.

 

In coastal regions of the US, residents brace for hurricane season by stocking up and hunkering down.  Maybe you need to hunker down right now too. Could be you’re in a sandwich season spread thin between the needs of growing children and aging parents, or your own health is wonky.

 

When you see turbulence approaching in your personal life, please take the advice you’d give to a close friend. Adjust for it. Edit your life and be ruthless with the red pen, excising commitments that can wait for another day or be handled by someone else.

 

Finally, ask for help. 


2019 2022 2024

 

On our first trip here five years ago, my back suddenly locked up while I was reaching for risegrot (rice pudding) at the local supermarket. (Let this be a lesson to you of the perils of loving pudding.) I shuffled into church that Sunday leaning heavily on Mike’s arm on one side while using a cane on the other, my icepack leaking onto the seat during a particularly warm rendition of In Christ Alone.


Not my best look.

 

We came to Norway to serve, not to be served, but when help was kindly offered, we gratefully accepted. Jill loaned me a heating pad, Kristy contacted her chiropractor, and Rebecca brought over her back brace. We had only known these wonderful women a matter of weeks, but when my back went out, they rushed in.

 

Honestly, most of us would rather help others than need it ourselves. We want to be useful, to feel we have a purpose in taking up space on this planet. But to be fit to give, we also need to receive. God is omniscient, people are not. Reach out!  I credit the Irish with a favorite proverb: “It is in the shelter of each other that the people live.”


Life will be turbulent at times. We should anticipate it, adjust for it, and humble ourselves to ask for help.


If you're bracing for bad weather or are already in a bad path, please know you're not alone. Leave a comment here - anonymously if you like. I won't be the only one praying for you.


You are dearly loved!


~Maggie

If you're in the neighborhood, come join us!

           


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