As a kid—now as a romantic, I thought of fog as the heavenly clouds dipping down to embrace the earth. I also used to think of thunder as God doing some heavenly bowling, but that is another story for another time--probably when I explain to my grandchildren the more intricate details of nature. Though some would describe fog as being a cloud at ground level, it is not. Fog is created by supersaturation of the air, so that the air can no longer hold the water vapor. The water vapor precipitates out into small droplets of condensation, or fog. The world and things look different in the fog. Fog has a tendency to muffle and distort sound . . . tends to make it difficult to see . . . thus making navigation and travel difficult.
I think that it is easy to get lost in the fog . . . especially as we are making our way back home.
This past week I finally got around to fulfilling a gift that had been given to me by my sister . . . I finally got around to creating that photobook that she had given me the funding to do. It was a simple project . . . go through all the photographs I had taken since I had moved to Montana and create a book of the best of them. She gave it to me for my birthday . . . nearly eight months ago. I think the truancy of starting and completing the book was the fact that I had gotten lost in the fog. No matter how many times I sat down to start the project . . . well, I just couldn’t find my bearings. I was lost.
Going through nearly eight years of photographs is more difficult than it sounds . . . I take a lot of photos . . . as I tell anyone interested in photography, you have to take a lot of pictures to get one good one. In all those years I had taken a lot of pictures. Yet, it was not the immensity of the number of photos I had to view, it was finding the desire to do it . . . finding the gumption to do it. Finally, I sat down and created the book. What a revelation that exercise in creativity turned out to be . . . an epiphany of sorts.
Whether anyone else likes my pictures or not, I like them. I have no difficulty sitting and going through thousands of pictures . . . reliving each and every story associated with them. That is always a joy as even the really lousy pictures have a story to tell. No, it was not having to go through thousands of pictures. I did it. The wife says that it is a beautiful photobook. She might be a little bias . . . but, that is what makes her a good wife. I guess we will see once we get the final copy. The final copy is not the epiphany . . . it and all the work that led up to it revealed just how deeply mired I had been in the fog that settled upon my life over the past few years.
As I went through each year’s pictures . . . pictures of hiking trips in the mountains, jaunts down to Yellowstone, critter creeping excursions, snowshoeing in the Beartooths, or even moosing around the West Fork Road . . . each year revealed fewer and fewer of those moments—those adventures, taking place in my life. As I progressed through each year, there were fewer and fewer adventures . . . fewer explorations, until this past year when I noticed that in a twelve month period I had hardly done anything except photograph the hell out of the birds that visited the Keener Homestead. It was an epiphany . . . gone were the adventures that brought excitement and joy and growth to my life . . . instead I found the revelation that I had been wandering in the fog, trying to find my way back home. I had lost that foundation that brought happiness and joy to my life . . . and, it wasn’t only the photographs that were telling this story, it was also the scantiness of my writing. My blog was dying.
Wandering around in the fog probably best describes it. I am sure some of you really sharp individuals out there will get all psychological and pronounce the fog as being depression . . . but, save it. It was not depression . . . it was fog. It has been a period of time in my life when things have been muffled, distorted, and difficult to see and hear. The spiritual mystics might call it the “dark night of the soul”, but I still like wandering around in the fog. In darkness a person just cannot see, in fog it is not that a person cannot see . . . it is distorted . . . just a blurry image . . . not quite gone, but not quite there. Always teasing and prodding. Depression is a deep, dark hole that is hopeless and foreboding. Fog is wandering around seeking some sort of anchor to hold onto. I have not been depressed . . . just sort of wandering around, attempting to get my bearings, and hoping like crazy that I do not bump into anything that would hurt me. I have just been wanting to get home.
Isn’t that what we all want? To get back home? The problem is that we sometimes stumble into the fog . . . or the fog slowly creeps up on us . . . until that moment when we suddenly realize that we are not sure where we are at, how we got there, or where we are going. We are engulfed in this hazy middle ground between here and there . . . as if nothing else exists and we are left wandering . . . searching.
In my life, the fog is lifting. It is not the head that guides one through the fog towards home . . . it is the heart. I think the head helps create the fog, while the heart finds its way home. Since completing that photobook project the heart has been leading me out of the fog . . . it has revealed the light breaking forth . . . beyond the fog there is clarity. Though the fog has kept me safe, insulated me from the world around me . . . the time has come to get back on track . . . to dream . . . to risk . . . to get back in the mountains and hike . . . to live adventures . . . to see where God is calling me to go . . . to get back home.
Yeah, we all want to get home . . . sometimes the journey home is through the fog. An important prayer in the congregation I serve is the prayer of “traveling mercies” . . . it is a prayer of keeping those on a journey safe in their coming and going . . . a prayer of revelation that despite the journey—good or bad, that the sojourner is never alone . . . God is with them as much as they are in the thoughts and prayers of those who offer the prayer. It is prayer of the heart . . . and, it is the heart that carries us safely through the fog of life. I guess, in a way, fog really is clouds embracing the earth in an intimate embrace . . . in the Old Testament wasn’t God often portrayed as a cloud leading the people? Maybe fog is just God putting us in a bear hug until we can continue on in our journeys to home. I find comfort in that.