Limited Vision

fogI 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.

Limited vision.

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.




Holy Ground

Forgetting that taking out the garbage involves holy time and holy ground is a mistake.  Maybe sandals have a use . . . but spiritually we need them on less than we think.

Then the Lord said to him, “Take off the sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” (Exodus 3:5)
I have never liked the idea that some ground is more holy than other ground.  I appreciate the reminder to notice how holy the ground is, but I am not willing to elevate one ground over another.  Nor can I pick out one great time and lift it above another. Or take a Sabbath only on Sundays.  Monday can be very holy itself.  I like the phrase one of my parishioners uses: remember the future.  Now is then.  Then is now.  I might argue that we should keep our sandals off all the time, in all spaces.

Yesterday we carried two weeks of frozen compost to the local community garden and placed it in the offering plate. The offering plate was a white drum with a handle you can turn. Our egg shells, onion skins, coffee grounds, apple cores, grapefruit peels, squished limes and garlic casings were on their way to resurrection as next year’s Swiss chard. Or red leaf lettuce. Perhaps even a sweet pea will rise from these offerings. Remembering the future is the only way to have a future. You have to build now for later. As the very successful head of Amazon says, over and over, we need to be three steps ahead of our last three steps, which steps will shift each time we take them.

OK, OK, OK. I know we’re supposed to “carpe diem,” seize the day, live in the moment, and all that. Still, the truth of every moment is the way it treated yesterday. It has a past as last year’s compost, a present as this year’s onion, and a future as next year’s chard. Now is later, later is now, and soil needs eternal, not temporal, attention. Forgetting that taking out the garbage involves holy time and holy ground is a mistake.  Maybe sandals have a use . . . but spiritually we need them on less than we think.

 O God, keep our sandals in our hands and our minds aware of how sacred time and space, here and now, then and later, are.  Amen.

Reflection by Donna Schaper, from StillSpeaking

(This reminds me of something I heard many years ago: “For the Christian, there is no difference between the secular and the sacred; all ground is holy ground, every bush is a burning bush.” Perhaps Bob Jones Sr. wouldn’t have used this in reference to care for the earth or in relation to the past and the future, but the message remains that everything we do, say, are or come across is just as sacred as that ancient burning bush.)