There was a pleasant surprise awaiting me outside the other morning. I didn’t look out the windows right away because I had things that had to be taken care of first, but when I did there was some fog! Granted, it was not a thick fog, not really much fog at all, but the fact that there was any fog was a real pleasure. I was glad I didn’t have to drive anywhere. Arizonans are not always noted for their weather sense. The fog was just another reason to keep going as fast as possible to outrun it.
Fog is very uncommon in this part of Arizona. I’ve only seen it maybe half a dozen times in the 38 years or so that I’ve lived here. I remember we had fog back home, and it was nice when we didn’t have to be out fighting traffic. There’s something peaceful about fog; it seems to wrap itself around something or, as the Carl Sandburg said, “… comes on little cat feet.”* That is one of the most accurate lines of poetry I have ever heard.
I remember when I worked in San Francisco. We rode the bus from the town I was living in into the city every morning. Quite often in the morning, we would get to the top of the Waldo Grade, and there would be banks of clouds with only the tops of the tallest buildings and the towers of the Golden Gate Bridge rising from these billowing clouds. It was so beautiful that it was almost ethereal. It was like a floating city, even though I knew that there were quite a few floors of those buildings beneath and among the clouds.
Fog can be a menace. It prevents us from seeing things far away. We can only see a short distance in front, and that phenomenon disturbs a lot of people. They want to see what’s ahead of them and allow time to make plans for how to adjust or react. It is impossible with fog; we take what we are given, which is anywhere from 3 to 10 feet in front of us, maybe more. It’s like pushing our way through cotton balls. Still, if we take care, we can make our way through it.
I know I’ve experienced a kind of brain fog when in shock from something like an accident or sudden death. I know that I see the world clearly because my glasses are not blurred, but my brain is. My mind also jumps frantically trying to find a clear path, but the fog won’t allow it. Some might call it a lack of faith, but I don’t think it is. It’s possibly my brain trying to protect me from something I’m not ready to handle, something that has nothing at all to do with my faith and everything to do with how my life is going. With time, however, the fog gently lifts, the brain starts functioning normally again, and I think I’ve been grateful for the cushion that the fog gave me at a time when my brain surrounded itself with cotton balls to protect it until I was ready to meet whatever the situation was.
There have also been many times when I read the Bible in kind of a fog. I want it to make crystal clear sense, but I’m not always sure where that sense can be found. The teachings of Jesus are reasonably clear, but what cultural twists are there in those teachings of which I am unaware? What contextual things am I missing when I read? A course of study in cultural and biblical anthropology was quite helpful in showing me some things that I hadn’t really considered. I’m richer for having had that exposure, but I don’t know everything, so there’s still some foggy spots.
Somehow I think about the road to Emmaus. In my mind’s eye, I see people walking on the road, including two people who had just come from Jerusalem after the crucifixion of Jesus and his resurrection. They are still stunned and fogged by the thought of losing the master, but what of the stories of him rising from the dead and being seen by the disciples and the Mary’s? Could they really, honestly trust in what they had heard? Then, when they were joined by a single gentleman also traveling that way, they could talk about it among themselves because the stranger had asked for enlightenment as to why they look so sad. The fog for them lifted when they sat down to dinner in Emmaus, and Jesus blessed the bread and wine. The fog utterly dissipated and they realized who was there with them and yes, the stories that they had heard were absolutely true.
In times of personal fog, I keep waiting for Jesus to appear and wipe away the blur. Sometimes it doesn’t take long; sometimes it might take months, depending on the depth of the trauma and the remembering to breathe before taking one small step at a time. Also, I still have to trust that I will make it through the fog. Jesus is good for that. He only asks that I trust him, even if it’s not 100% trust. Even a baby step will bring him closer and able to wipe the fog away.
I can’t say I like having my brain fogged. It’s like waking up from surgery and wondering where I am, or getting up in the morning and wondering what I’m supposed to do that day. The fog outside the window I like, fog of the brain I don’t, but both are things that can help me find God and deepen my trust, because in the mist I am alone until I remember to invite God in. God is just waiting for that invitation because God’s been there the whole time just waiting for me to ask.
This week I think I will remember the feeling of being in a fog, and then practice trusting myself and the Trinity. The three bases are covered, all I have to do is hit the ball and start running.
Linda Ryan is a co-mentor for an Education for Ministry group, an avid reader, lover of Baroque and Renaissance music, and retired. She keeps the blog Jericho’s Daughter. She is also owned by three cats.