By Deacon Scott D. Gilfillan
With the unseasonably warm weather this late December, there is a lot of morning fog rising off of Lake Norman. I snapped this picture of the hazy sunrise. The image provides a good metaphor for both my life and God’s presence in the upcoming year.
First, my life. In the foreground are some trees. These could be the challenges immediately before me, maybe even obstacles I need to navigate around. I see them clearly and can reasonably plot a path around them. The images in the distance are not so clear. In the foreground is Goat Island, now a mere shadow. On the other side of Goat Island, the hills surrounding the lake are a blur. Having navigated through the trees upfront, what lies ahead is not so clear. The island ahead is dark. The distant hills are unfathomable.
Second, God’s presence. The most obvious image of God is the rising sun. It’s a beacon of hope that brings a golden glow to the surrounding landscape. The image provides a focal point for my hopes and dreams as I enter a new year. As the sun rises, I have faith that its heat and light will burn away the fog and reveal a clearer path ahead, exposing to the patient heart delights to pursue and pitfalls to avoid.
The less obvious image of God is the fog rising from the lake. The surface of the water is deceptively still, a picture of peace. Through the temperature inversion, this still body of water also generates impenetrable fog. True peace finds its origin in God. The mystics say that God, however, is often hidden in the fog, or as one ancient author describes, “The Cloud of Unknowing”.
When I silence my mind and gaze into the ‘fog’ long enough through prayer and meditation, I begin to make out various shapes. I begin to touch upon that true peace. I begin to sense the silent presence of God speaking to my heart.
As I enter the New Year, where will I direct my focus? I can focus on the trees and the visible obstacles directly in my path. I can focus on the dark, blurry horizon, and worry about what may come. I can focus on the golden glow of the sun that momentarily appears but then move on with the rest of my day. Or I can spend some time gazing into the fog and seek the God of mystery and true peace.
What will it be for you?