This was the scene that greeted me at the Agape Church of the Brethren this morning. When I woke up today I saw the school delays on the television and when I arrived at the YMCA for my daily workout the gyms were loaded with kids – dropped off by their parents heading for work – so that they could wait for the school buses that were on a two hour delay. School administrators decided that a delay was better than risking driving in the fog. I understand. Fog can be scary – it has long symbolized uncertainty.
For me, however, fog has ceased to be scary. The symbolic kind anyway. Another word for ‘uncertainty’ can be ‘mystery.’ I’ve discovered that mystery is a necessary and exciting part of life. Kind of like waiting to open a birthday present – as a child we want to tear through the wrapping as quickly as we can, but in adulthood we like to savor the surprise. What’s in store for me in here?
As I saw the sun trying to burn through the fog across the meadow and woods that make up Agape’s back yard, I was reminded that G-d seldom speaks to us in an audible voice. While we read of grand gestures in the Bible, more often than not, like the Prophet Elijah in I Kings 19, we hear G-d speaking in the “Still, Small Voice.” The challenge is to tune out the background distractions – sights and sounds that constantly assault our senses – and hear that Voice above the din of modern life.
That is easier said than done. With practice we can sometimes experience simply ‘being present’ in the moment, but even then the work-a-day world will eventually crash back in on us like the rolling waves of the incoming tide. Let’s recall that even Jesus needed to take time out from this cycle when He invited His disciples to “come away with me for a time.”
As I prepare to take some time away – to come away from the work-a-day-world of a parish minister – I am striving to prepare myself to hear that Still Small Voice. Getting away from responsibilities, from civilization, from distractions is all good and well, but unless I am ready to hear the “Still, Small Voice” it will all be for nothing. I don’t know now what, if anything, G-d may have to say to me on this journey, but I’ve come to the point in my life that I don’t mind lingering in the fog for a time. It’s part of the glorious mystery of our spiritual journeys.