Around my way the mornings have been quite foggy of late. As winter has set in and the days have been quite dry and sunny, the still and cold nights turn any moisture in the air to a dense fog. Driving is difficult and visibility can fall to just 50 metres. The border between what we can see clearly, see in part and not see at all, is fluid and changes as we travel.
Of course the world hasn’t gone away. It’s just shrouded in fog. Depending upon how well we know our immediate area, this can be a mere inconvenience or a major danger. For pruning the vineyard one only has to be able to see a couple of metres ahead. Driving the car on a narrow road in fog needs extra care. If we are driving on an unknown road, it can be downright dangerous but it can also be beautiful.
Recently, I was driving back from Eaglehawk to Colbinabbin early one morning, about 6.30 a.m. The fog was thick and sluggish and with sunrise still some time away there was no chance of it burning off any time soon. It was a bit more challenging than usual but driving down these country roads I couldn’t help but be captivated by the beauty of the countryside, especially when I would go up a small rise and be above the fog, only to submerse myself in it again as the road dipped. I passed olive groves, farmland, forest and river flats. This is the same road I drive on regularly to and from my vineyard. But the fog changed everything. It obscured things. It made everything look different – and sometimes, in a strange sort of way, it made somethings clearer. The boundaries became both less distinct but also sharper.
Maybe it was because I really had to pay attention to the little I could see. Sometimes, when driving through fog I saw things that I’ve never seen before. Something stunning and beautiful. Sometimes, I could barely make out what the fog was covering, but the shroud somehow framed and focussed my attention.
I spend a lot of my life living in a fog, never quite sure of what lies ahead. Sometimes the things I know for certain are less clear and I need to slow down and be careful. Sometimes I get lost in the fog of confusion and decide it’s best to stop and wait it out. I wish things were clearer, but there is not much I can do about it. The border between what I know, know in part and and not know at all, is fluid and changes with time and experience.
Ultimately, none of us can fully know the answers to life’s big questions. No matter how far we dig into theology, philosophy, science, psychology or even astrology, at the centre we find a deep mystery. A fog. There is always uncertainty. There is always a leap of faith required.
It made me think of a few people in my church, in the community and in the Dhurringile gaol who are groping their way through their own fog, trying to figure out the next step of their lives, dealing with grief and loss, clawing their way past a bad situation. They are lost in a fog of uncertainty and ambiguity with no sign of clear skies breaking anytime soon.
And I want to say, “Hang in there, you’ll find your way”. Faith is the willingness to believe that even though I can’t see clearly what lies ahead of me in life, I believe that meaning and purpose, joy and belonging still exist. Faith believes that God walks with us and shares our griefs and confusion. Faith believes that the fog will lift. The borders may be indistinct, but faith will guide us.
In the meantime, live in the moment. There is beauty, there is hope, there is joy to be found even in the deepest fog.
“For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known.” (1 Corinthians 13:12)
This is the gospel, and it’s good news
Brian Spencer, Minister