Have you ever gotten so far behind in your e-mails that by the time you get to them, there is a long, long list? Life gets so busy that there are times when addressing e-mails just can’t get on my radar screen. But, grace being what it is, I was nudged to scan the long list of messages awaiting me late yesterday afternoon, only to find to my horror that it was my time to submit a pastor’s article for the paper, due on this day that I am writing it (not that it’s a horror to draft an article!) Of course, this day was already heavily scheduled. So, here I am, ready to spend some time with you, but my mind is in a fog!
Of course, being in a fog isn’t that foreign of an experience, living here on the coast. I smirk when someone from, say, San Antonio is here and he or she says, “Wow! We never get fog where I live!” Believe it or not, I always find myself saying something like, “Wow” also when it is foggy. There is something about the fog that to me is mysterious – even comforting. I attended high school in New Jersey, where we’d occasionally get snow fog, when there would be a deep fog mixed with very small flakes of snow.
Prior to our moving to Port Aransas, we lived in Sewanee, Tenn., where in the winter we would literally have weeks of fog. In fact, the nickname for that area is “Foggy Mountain.” As both a child and as an adult, I have spent time along the Atlantic coast in New England. There, like here, the fog rolls in thickly off the ocean, but densely during the summer. I vividly remember the foghorns blaring out into the thickness, warning of danger and inviting those at sea to safe port. And, one of the coolest experiences (for those of us who like the fog) was being on a ship that was cutting into heavy fog, and hearing the vessel’s foghorn sound every two minutes day and night.
I know that not everyone has an appreciation for fog. I must say, that I don’t -- when I don’t have the “ foggiest idea.” It makes me feel vulnerable, helpless, and very much alone. To those persons who say that they never get to live in fog, I’d like to say, “Think again!” We find ourselves living in a fog many times, if not much of our lives.
It occurs when we are feeling alone and ashamed. It happens when we are called upon to act and we don’t know what to do. It is when we’ve lost our bearing, like a compass that has been broken, and we don’t know what to do, either in the moment or with our lives. It occurs when we are confronted with shocking news, or when we are dealt a blow, or when we feel so helpless we don’t know where to turn. It sets in when we become convoluted by addictive behaviors, emotional trauma, by skepticism, sarcasm, faithlessness, disease, or by someone’s death.
In these and all circumstances, it is important to remember that there is a voice in the fog, sounding like a blaring horn calling you into the safe harbor of His arms of love and mercy. Jesus said, “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest… for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matthew 12:28)
God didn’t create you and me to be cast adrift in a life of unknowing and unfulfillment. He wants you to know that when you don’t have the foggiest notion, that He beams brightly, because He wants to say to you, “I do!” This is why we are to learn to be comfortable while we are in a fog. It causes us to really listen and to encounter the gift of hope and love in Christ, who has been calling us all along.
Doug Schwert is vicar at Trinity-by-the-Sea Episcopal Church in Port Aransas.