Traveling in the Fog

Today’s post is by Leah Rampy.

The fog rolls in softly, creeping over the hills and creating new folds of landscape as colors fade to black and white. No longer able to see clearly the road ahead, I slow my car. Sounds now muffled, I relish the shifting configuration of clouds, the new shapes of once familiar objects, and the quiet solitude of my journey. The fog intensifies and I slow again.

A term from a once-used drivers’ manual comes to mind: overdriving your headlights. Overdriving your headlights occurs when you go so fast that your stopping distance is further than the illumination of your headlights. This, the manuals tell us, is dangerous as you may crash into an object ahead. Indeed! And I note with chagrin that this is a good description of how I act all too often!

When I am blessed with a sliver of discernment and I can see just the next step I’m invited to take, I often have a moment of gratitude. Then curiosity – or could it be a need for control? – takes over; I want to know more. Where is my final destination? I could get “there” so much better/faster/more efficiently if I knew where “there” was! Indulging my thinking mind, I hypothesize the outcome: ah, that must be what God has in mind for me! Then, confident of my knowledge, I leap into action, running pell-mell ahead of the illumination of the Spirit. And I go astray – or I crash.

What is it in me that resists the fog of life? Can I not slow my speed, enjoy the shifting shapes present in the now, rest in the softness and quiet of the moment, and trust that the path ahead will be illuminated in its time? I seem to have a tendency to make transitions more difficult than they need to be.

Roaming the internet while reflecting on this topic, I came across a blog on PsychCentral that seemed beautifully serendipitous. Maud Purcell, LCSW, wrote, “Our complex thought processes help us to survive challenging circumstances. Yet these very same processes preclude us from thriving during times of change.” We over analyze and over worry. Take one day at a time, the author encourages. Take care of yourself, allow your emotions, accept the situation, and give yourself time.   In other words, don’t overdrive your headlights!

The blog ends with an admonition to have faith. Have faith! The promise is there in the manual. “We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us!” (The Message, 1 Corinthians 13:12)

Today I’m driving slowly in the fog, appreciating the journey though soft, shifting shapes, calm in the assurance that the Holy One who set me on this road will reveal what I need to see as I need to see it. How is your journey through the fog? I’d love to hear from you.


LRampyLeah Rampy, Shalem’s Executive Director, has a background in corporate management and leadership consulting as well as a deep passion for contemplative living and care of the Earth. She has a PhD in Curriculum from Indiana University and is a graduate of Shalem’s Living in God: Personal Spiritual Deepening; and Transforming Community: Leading Contemplative Prayer Groups & Retreats Programs.

Reference: Maud M. Purcell, LCSW, CEAP. “Don’t Think. Thrive Your Way through Transition.” www.psychcentral.com

Photo by Christy Berghoef

11 thoughts on “Traveling in the Fog

  1. Leah – Thank you for the metaphor of driving – and living – beyond the headlights. I just returned from two weeks in Ireland, where fog and “soft days” of mist were interspersed with patches of sky blue and bursts of sunlight. Together these dark and bright forms of nature produced rainbows that delighted my seeing eye and enlivened my spirit. Back home I am in a spiritual and emotional fog, wondering what gifts I brought back from Ireland and how to use them to enrich my life. The irony is that the intention for my Ireland pilgrimage was to be in the magic of the moment as much as possible. Perhaps the living of that intention on that rocky, rugged island is the gift to give myself back here in “real” life. What I need to remember is that there is as much magic in the impaired seeing of fog as there is in the clear view of a sunlit vista.

    With gratitude,
    Linda

    • Linda, You paint such a beautiful picture of your time in Ireland; I love the image of rainbows coming from the fog. May you continue to hold the magic of that trip in your heart.

  2. Oh my goodness, did I need this, Leah! Thank you. I’m in transition after several deaths in my family, and am very anxious to “be done” with this part of life. I want to know where I go next, who I’ll be if I’m not a caregiver. Grief is so much like a fog (although sometimes not-so-soft).
    I’ve got some ideas, some “slivers,” as you say, and now want to dash ahead and get there even though I don’t know where that is or how to get there. Sigh.
    Thanks for your wisdom and your metaphors. I will enjoy this lovely fall day.

    • Melanie, Thank you for sharing. What a challenging journey! May you be given all the courage you need to wait for your life to further unfold.

  3. Leah,

    Yesterday morning our Shalem Circle met and we began by reading your post on traveling in the fog. We all found it a helpful metaphor for living with God and following the light. “I will keep this one,” one of our members said. “Yes, I’ll put this in my treasure box,” another said.

    What struck me was the beauty of the fog. Sometimes, when we are are confused and not clear on how to proceed, we see this as a negative thing – and yet the ephemeral beauty of the mist and unknowing is part of the process. I found your message calling me to observe and be more aware of the nature of the fog, as I navigate through, listening, hoping, following the light. And there’s always the thought, too, that when we are traveling through fog, we’re really walking in the clouds… living our dreams. An adventure into the unknown.

    We, too, want to express our gratitude to you for all you’ve done for Shalem. We’ve all appreciated the gift of Shalem in our lives – as we’ve become involved in the past few years. We wish you the best as you continue to use your spiritual gifts beginning a new chapter. We will miss your leadership.

    Love,
    Nancy

  4. Leah: this is so beautiful! Thank you for sharing your wisdom. I can feel myself slowing down, and trusting that there’s a reason for the fog.

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