Monday, March 1, 2010

Gasping from Inversions


The last bits of snow couldn’t hold on to their frost any longer—Almaty has become a giant mud puddle. Today is the first of March; according to the Kazakhs, it is the first day of spring. That means that winter has come to a close and the weather is all higher temperatures from here. Higher temperatures are both a good thing and a bad thing. Good in the sense that we will see the sun more often, there won’t be as much pollution in the air, and we won’t have to spend time bundling every part of our body before exiting buildings. Bad in the sense that the streets are uncovered, the trash is everywhere, the mud is on the bottom of my shoes, and everyone on the bus is beginning to sweat—including the babushkas! So time passes and I trade some grievances for some different grievances and life moves on.

Today I watched some episodes of House, did some reading and personal study, as well as prepared review sheets for upcoming examinations that will be happening later this week. I have to keep my babies heads’ above water and make sure that all of them move on to the next level. There are a couple of them that I’m worried about, but we’ll see how this week plays out. I’m starting to bond with my students—it’s nice. I made some plans to hang out with them over the weekend. It should be fun.

I mentioned earlier that the warm weather will mean less pollution in the city. This is because of a little weather anomaly called “Inversion.” Inversion is some crazy thing that my Atmospheric-Scientist-cousin told me was happening. After a bit of research I realized that what he said was very true. You see—Almaty is in a little basin surrounded by giant mountain peaks. It is also an incredibly large, overcrowded city that believes in using SUVs and factories that pour thick, dark grey smoke from their stacks—not to mention all the coal burning that happens in certain parts of the city to keep people warm. All of this pollution goes up into the air and is trapped by a blanket of warmer air that acts as a lid. The cold air—the air mixed with all the junk—is trapped in the little basin that we call a city. (For more about inversions check this out: As I was pondering this thought I couldn’t help but make a spiritual parallel. I thought about my life and how I long to let pure love live within me. I long for righteousness and godly character, but I’m living with inversion. Jesus wants us to breathe fresh air—physically and spiritually. When man decided to invite sin here, the world got cold and we became surrounded by jagged mountain peaks, our nature became sinful. We don’t usually mean to invite sin into our lives, we just do. We think we need to stay warm so we start burning coal in one area of our lives. We need to travel in style so we start driving big SUVs and the exhaust rises from another part of our lives. Pretty soon we are erecting entire factories with thick, black smoke pouring from their chimneys—not because we want the smoke, not because we want evil to lurk, but because we want the profit, the convenience, whatever it is that this factory will give us. Pretty soon we have invited so much garbage into our lives that our air quality sucks and we are living in a pool of pollution. We are suffocating in our own filthiness. This sounds pretty grim and I take pleasure in telling you that Jesus is a great air purifier and will forgive you from your sins and cleanse you from all unrighteousness. But, I also take displeasure in telling you that this smoke is not easy to escape, in fact I’m not sure it’s possible to escape. You can’t run from it, for the cold breeze follows you, even all the way across the globe (believe me I’ve tested it). You can’t fight it for the mountains are much bigger than you. The only thing we can do is to try to stop all this smoke from pouring out of our lives and ignore the chilling cold that sweeps in the absence of fire.

Now I’m not legalistic—far from it. And I certainly don’t advocate licentiousness—far from it. What I do advocate is love and I don’t know about you, but I want to know and taste love in all its glory. The problem us humans have with love is that we get a taste and our selfish desire takes over and perverts love so that it can no longer be recognized as the raw material we began with. The main reason I want to be “good” is so that I stop perverting the miraculous love Jesus keeps pouring on me. I know Jesus forgives, I know He is bigger than my actions of ignorance, I know His grace is strong enough to cover and His love is powerful enough to cleanse, but the smoke continues to pour out of my life and out of everyone I see. I’m not advocating that we give up, for that would be foolish, but I think I’m advocating that we start being collectively radical. I have this theory that if I get too busy loving my neighbor that I will forget to throw coal on the fire and the smoke will stop suffocating me. The beauty of this theory is that I won’t even get cold because the love inside of me will be warming every inch of my soul. Maybe I should give it a try, but it’s only a theory. Putting it into practice would be far too difficult. Any takers?


  1. Very good...nice reference to NOAA. :)

  2. I want to give it a try......A good start is to fuel the fire!