Moving Through The Fog

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Movement by Rumi

If a tree could move from place to place,
It would escape the pain of the ax.
And if the sun and moon were set in stone,
how could they spread their light?
How bitter would the great Euphrates, Tigris, and
Oxus rivers become,
if they were stagnant as a lake?
If air is confined in a well, it turns foul:
see what loss is suffered from inertia.
But when the water of the ocean rose high
in the clouds,
it was delivered from bitterness and became fresh and
sweet.

As I look out the window today, I can’t help but notice the presence fog-thick sky resting upon the ground. Fog is a good metaphor for those places in life where we find ourselves uncertain, unclear, and just afraid to face the unknown. But the presence of Fog does not have to be seen negatively. It has a way of slowing us down, and if it’s thick enough it can even bring our wandering lives to a halt. Even here though, we can learn to move through it and break the inertia that fog often brings.

Fog calls us to attention and to memory. It challenges our movement because it obscures the familiar. I’ve been down this road before, everything is still in the same place, but now it is shrouded in disguise. In these situations we must rely on other senses, feeling our way through the room with our hands, driving slowly down the road recalling each curve and bump from memory. It’s all in there, we just rarely have the opportunity to slow down and realize it. Yet another difficult conflict at work that you must address is obscured by new details and complexities. But these are roads you have been down before. Remember the steps and the missteps, learn from both and make the necessary movements. Focus on the people who walked with you or helped you think more clearly about the situation. Return again to prayer and listening, knowing that the Inward Teacher will guide you.

Fog can also press us to grow and learn how to be adaptive. Sometimes it overlays the unknown. This is what we are often most afraid of. When the path ahead is unclear so that even a few steps ahead requires a step into the dark. The choice between this job or that. Whether to risk this or that relationship or opportunity. Many losses fall into this category. The death of a loved one for the first time. The loss of love or work or home can drop us into a dark mystery just as fast as the warmth of the rising sun can dissipate the brume.

But even here we are not at a complete loss for guidance. A community surrounding us is safer traversing the mystery together than any one of us are wandering alone in the forest. Certain teachings and stories that have withstood the test of time, handed down from church or family or community create an inner awareness and resiliency. Practices, life lessons, stories, and beliefs that have worked in the past may be like a compass giving you a direction to move in, or they may need to be adapted, changed or dropped for something that helps make better sense of the thing you face.


Often we don’t know where we are going or what it is we exactly need until we start moving in some direction. Standing still can only tell you so much. Sometimes you need new perspective. Sometimes the path forward is behind the next turn in the road. From a perspective of discernment, it is better to test leadings, ask for clarity, and make an attempt to come to consensus than it is to remain forever unchanged and unchallenged.

‘See what loss is suffered from inertia.’

I take this to mean, don’t let the fog paralyze your life. Move through the fog. When the presence of fog begins to overwhelm slow down and listen. Trust and move. Move and trust. Learn, adapt and do not give up. Forgive yourself if you make a misstep and ask others to forgive you too. We are learning how to navigate what we do not yet understand.

The fog will lift and you will see the beauty and sweetness that surrounds you:

But when the water of the ocean rose high
in the clouds,
it was delivered from bitterness and became fresh and
sweet.


Originally published on Medium.

Published by

Wess

...is the William R. Roger Director of Friends Center and Quaker Studies at Guilford College in Greensboro, NC., PhD in Intercultural Studies from Fuller Theological Seminary, served as a "released minister" at Camas Friends Church, and father of three. He enjoys sketchnoting, sharing conversation over coffee with a friend, listening to vinyl and writing creative nonfiction.