I suspect if I had been walking through it, I would have found it rather beautiful. Perhaps if I had stopped and stood quite still out in the midst of it, I could have seen its veiled shapes and outlines, watched it move about, heard its secrets, smelled the scent of things hidden in its pockets. I might even have seen others seeking their way as well. But I was driving a car, and it was not quite dawn, and so the fog that was enveloping me just felt thick and ominous, unnerving and unending, and terribly lonely.
I was traveling down unfamiliar backroads through Georgia farmland. It was early on a Sunday morning. The sun seemed late in coming up, although a thinly veiled full moon was silently waiting for it to rise and follow it across the sky. I remember thinking how odd it was that I could see the sky through the surrounding mists, but nothing else.
The fog was just as impenetrable in front of me as it was on either side, and it closed in behind me like sea foam around my ankles on a beach. It never seemed to lift or lighten, never even swirl or trail as fogs typically do. And, alone in my car, there was no sense of the reality of motion – except when droplets of moisture formed and ran in rivulets across the windows – appearing suddenly, then disappearing just as inexplicably.
But I had a place to be, people waiting, and so I kept moving on, deeper and farther into the fog, deeper and farther into my apprehension.
I tried to focus my thoughts on what made fog – and a long-ago science class reminded me: changes in air temperature … warm air cooling, or perhaps it was cool air warming … changes in moisture, changes in saturation, changes in dew point. All having to do with changes in the atmosphere. It was nothing more than change that’s caught in the midst of occurrence. But right then, I was caught in the midst of it, too. And it seemed endless. Endless change.
Farther along, I remembered that fog has seasons. And the words “a season of fog” and “a season of change” played tag behind my eyes. Both fog and change keep us from knowing with certainty what lies ahead. Each can appear impenetrable, yet still we must, and do, hurtle forward into it. Each of them confuses our senses and steals from us all that we hold familiar and certain. And each may feel endless as we try to move about, make sense of our surroundings, cope with our failing confidence.
Perhaps our current global “season of fog and change” would feel less intimidating if we stepped out of our self-imposed cages and preconceptions – just as I felt more fearful because I was enclosed, alone, within my car and its opaque windows. Maybe this “season of change” would be more compelling if we simply slowed down and stood quietly for a moment within it. I wonder if we would glimpse possibilities in it, learn its secrets, find things that are familiar and knowable in its pockets, and actually see and hear one another. Or maybe if we took off our thick-soled shoes, our combat boots, and walked softly on bare feet, we could feel more connected, more secure, more sentient with it all.
Eventually, I drove that entire trip surrounded by the fog. I drove it all within the limited distance that the car headlights were able to project. And I discovered that it’s possible to complete an entire journey simply moving with the available light, no matter how slight – length by length, beginning to beginning.
I suspect that, just like a “season of fog,” our current “season of change” will ultimately lift, and it will unveil the shapes of things ahead, and we will feel safe and sure again. But while we’re in the midst and the mist of it all, I wish we could just slow down a bit and walk more softly with each other. Perhaps we could seek out and hold fast to those things that ground us and guide us and bring us through – like hope and decency, integrity and humility, generosity, compassion, courage, vulnerability, patience, grace … and slender beams of light.