And so you have a life that you are living only now,
now and now and now,
gone before you can speak of it,
and you must be thankful for living day by day,
moment by moment …
a life in the breath and pulse and living light of the present… ~Wendell Berry from Hannah Coulter
~Lustravit lampade terras~
(He has illumined the world with a lamp)
The weather and my mood have little connection.
I have my foggy and my fine days within me;
my prosperity or misfortune has little to do with the matter.
– Blaise Pascal from “Miscellaneous Writings”
Is my gloom, after all, Shade of His hand,
outstretched caressingly? ~Francis Thompson from “The Hound of Heaven”
My days are filled with anxious and sad patients, one after another after another. They sit at the edge of their seat, struggling to hold back the flood from brimming eyes, fingers gripping the arms of the chair. Each moment, each breath, each heart beat overwhelmed by questions: will there be another breath? must there be another breath? Must life go on like this in fear of what the next moment will bring?
The only thing more frightening than the unknown is the knowledge that the next moment will be just like the last or perhaps worse. There is no recognition of a moment just passed that can never be retrieved and relived. There is only fear of the next and the next so that the now and now and now is lost forever.
Worry and sorrow and angst are contagious as the flu.
I mask up and wash my hands of it throughout the day.
I wish we could be vaccinated to protect us all from these unnamed fears.
I want to say to them and myself:
Stop this moment in time. Stop and stop and stop.
Stop expecting someone or some thing must fix this feeling.
Stop wanting to be numb to all discomfort.
Stop resenting the gift of each breath.
Instead, simply be.
I want to say:
this moment, foggy or fine, is yours alone,
this moment of weeping and sharing
and breath and pulse and light.
Shout for joy in it.
Be thankful for tears that can flow over grateful lips
and stop holding them back.
Stop me before I write,
out of my own anxiety,
yet another prescription
you don’t really need.
and be blessed–
in the now and now and now.
new year’s eve- in the echo of fog horns another voyage starts – Keiko Izawa
I grew up on a small farm located about two miles from a bay in Puget Sound. When I awoke, I knew it was a foggy morning outside even before looking out my bedroom window. The fog horns located on coastal buildings and bobbing buoys scattered throughout the inlet would echo mournful moans and groans to warn freighter ships away from the rocky or muddy shallows. The resonant lowing of the horns carried miles over the surrounding landscape due to countless water particles in the fog transmitting sound waves so effectively. The louder the foghorn moan heard on our farm, the thicker the mist in the air. Those horn voices would make me unspeakably sad for reasons I could never articulate.
Embarking on a voyage in blinding foggy conditions, just like starting a new year, portends both adventure and risk. Of course I’d prefer to see exactly where I am headed, carefully navigating with precise knowledge, eventually winding up exactly at my intended destination. The reality is that the future can be a murky mess. We cannot see what lies ahead: we navigate by our wits, by our best guess, but particularly by listening for the low-throated warnings coming from the rocky shores and shallows of those who have gone ahead of us.
I am still too easily lost in the fog of my fears – disconnected, afloat and circling aimlessly, searching for a touch point of purpose and direction. The isolation I sometimes feel may simply be my own self-absorbed state of mind, sucking me in deep until I’m soaked, dripping and shivering from the smothering gray. If only I might trust the fog horn voices, I could charge into the future undaunted, knowing there are others out there in the pea soup prepared to come alongside me as together we await the sun’s dissipation of the fog.
Now I know, over sixty years into the voyage, fog does eventually clear so the journey continues on.
Even so, I will keep listening for the resonant voices of wisdom and caution from shore, and at times raise my voice to join in.
Instead of echoing the moans and groans of my childhood mornings, may I sing an anthem of hope and promise.
People are more themselves when joy is the fundamental thing in them,
and grief the superficial.
Melancholy should be an innocent interlude,
a tender and fugitive frame of mind;
praise should be the permanent pulsation of the soul.
Pessimism is at best an emotional half-holiday;
joy is the uproarious labor by which all things live. ~G.K. Chesterton from Orthodoxy
How can I convince myself
sadness dwells lightly like a murky mist
over the surface of my soul some days
but cannot penetrate deep within.
It hovers but does not saturate.
It distracts but does not define.
If I just wait long enough,
again the sun will rise uproarious and outrageous,
drying up my melancholy
and pulse within me unceasingly
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Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. James 4:14
a spider’s web under the olive trees
splendidly hung with early drops, already
vanishing up the vortex of the air
…a heaven-sent refreshment? or a curtain
cutting out the light?
And I must ask it now (small moisture that I am) under the sun of God’s great grace on me: Which am I–dew, or fog? ~Luci Shaw from “…for you are a mist“
To be mere mist that clarifies
rather than opacifies,
that reflects new worlds
rather than absorbs,
that replenishes grace
rather than depletes~
at once evaporating heaven-ward within His warmth
while glistening from His descended touch.
Don’t surrender your loneliness
Let it cut more deep.
Let it ferment and season you
As few human
Or even divine ingredients can.
Something missing in my heart tonight Has made my eyes so soft, My voice So tender,
My need of God
~Hafez, 14th century Persian poet
When my heart clenches with sadness,
when my thinking is muddled with stress and doubting,
when I can’t focus on what is right before me because tears cloud my vision,
I remember one thing remains absolutely clear in the mist and midst of the fog:
I have need for God and I too am softened in my neediness.