I got up this morning to see my wife off to work. She works in a bakery where she does amazing things with cakes, so the 4am alarm clock is our constant not-so-much-loved companion.
As I was waving goodbye, I noticed something strange happening down the street. It was as if someone had gotten thick grey curtains and was pulling them across the street one house at a time.
A thick fog was rolling in.
Thick, ‘pea soup’ fog that you can’t see through.
It was still there three-and-a-half hours later when I headed out the door, and it was raining as well.
Lights on, wipers going, traffic was slowing down drastically.
Slowing, confusing, frustrating inability to see beyond a certain point.
Half-blind, stumbling (or, in my case, driving very slowly) through the fog, trying to make out what is ahead but not seeing it until it is nearly upon you.
We’ve all been there.
The truth is we all have limited vision aboiut what is ahead.
How can we see beyond what is right in front of us, today? Perhaps we think we can make out something a few weeks–or months–down the track. But is that because we actually see it, or is it because we hope to see it?
We don’t know what tomorrow brings. As St Paul wrote in the eloquent love chapter (1 Corinthians 13), ‘. . . now we see as in a miror, dimly.’
In the day this was written, mirrors were polished sheets of metal and the reflection they gave was often cloudy–a little like being in fog. What you saw staring back at you was often not much better than a shadow.
My vision is limited.
So how then can I navigate through my life in this fog?
Carefully. Even if I have a GPS, it won’t show me obstructions that are in my way on my travels today. I need to be careful to avoid these impediments if I want to arrive at my destination safely. Chances are that, if I put my foot down and drove at the posted speed limit all the way to work, I would have had an accident. I would most certainly hit another car that I couldn’t see in time to brake.
Confidently. We have a general sense of where we are going and work towards that goal. This is why education is important. This is why looking at the ‘maps’ of those who have travelled this way is essential. This is why I listen to the traffic reports on the radio as I navigate this well-worn route. I have as a great advantage that I know the road to work very well. I can navigate through the fog confidently. However, should I be less familiar with this route, it would do me well to look to those who have gone this way before.
Consciously. I need to focus on what is firectly in front of me now and move with a consciousness that this is the only moment that matters. There is great power in centering myself in the present. Relating this to my life, living in the past won’t help me just as much as living with an idealised view of the future won’t get me where I need to go.
Today I arrived at work safely. The fog lifted as I drove. By the time I pulled into the car park, only a little drizzle was there to greet me. While it may be foggy again tomorrow, I’ll live now in the truth that I am safe, I am dry, I am wartm, and I am in the place I need to be right now.