As Fall approaches in the Berkshires, fog has me wondering about setting priorities.
Driving the other evening over a familiar road I had to slow down and focus. Usually I can drive this road, sing to music, think about people to write or visit, and prepare dinner mentally all the while taking for granted that I can see the road fly by.
Recently, though, I had to slow down because a light fog hovered. This frustrated me because I wanted to get home and it took longer and itdistracted me from thinking about the other things.
It reminded me of the worst fog I had ever experienced while driving. One night in Kosovo, as friends and I returned from an outing a thick fog settled on the road. This fog, like a dense cloud, showed no sign of lifting or blowing clear. We could not even drive this familiar road at half-speed. We had no sense of direction or location.
We had to slow down. We had to focus. We had to think creatively.
Our solution: one companion got out of the car and placed one hand on the hood by the headlight and walked on the road’s border line while the van crept along as slow as I could go in first gear without stalling. It took a long time to get home, yet we finally arrived – and safely because we chose to slow down and focus. If we kept barreling ahead foolishly we would have had disastrous consequences.
One thing about driving in fog – even though you can only see a short-distance ahead, as you proceed slowly, as you keep going you see more of the road ahead than you knew before.
Sometimes circumstances in life are such that we feel we can fly down the road while multitasking. We can plan meals for the week, create the shopping list, arrange appropriate childcare and meetings, check-off a whole bunch of To-Do boxes, and juggle relationships with friends, family, and neighbors all during one morning cup of coffee. Other times if we can check-off one planned To-Do item in a day or manage a yummy and healthy meal for the family or make one phone call (or send an email) to one person of significance in our lives then we will consider the day a success. And we can get frustrated that we feel out-of-sync with our seeming inability to get meaningful things accomplished in a short amount of time.
To be honest, with transitions and development of new schedules and routines for me and my family, I have felt a bit discombobulated in recent weeks. This means I have also felt frustrated because I haven’t been able to do the same things with the same speed or efficiency as before. And the frustration feels like spinning the car’s wheels and not going anywhere. And that’s where wondering about fog helps me.
I need to see my transitions as driving in fog instead of spinning the wheels. In thick fog, we go slower, not faster, and focus on a few essentials – we turn off the music and phone and thoughts about dinner. Instead of feeling guilty for not getting seven or eight things done at a time, I need to give myself permission to focus on one or two things. As my family and I settle in to life and ministry as a family, the multi-tasking and ministry nights out will resume.
Rather than stressful, wondering about driving in fog has brought perspective and peace.
I wonder how your life has recently made you feel a bit discombobulated as though you were spinning your wheels. Or, I wonder how a situation or circumstance has made you feel a bit disoriented or uncertain of the way ahead. I wonder what one or two things you could focus on – like the hand on the hood and the line on the road – to help you get through this fog. Funny thing about driving in fog – it seems as though it will never end, but it will.
Loving God, thank you for your promise of enduring presence always. May we have the wisdom to know on what things to focus and the courage to continue to press forward in whatever fogs we may find ourselves. By your grace, grant us your peace until the Prince of Peace returns and removes the fog from our lives forever. Amen.