Last week Eric and I explored a new ski area north of Spokane, 49 Degrees North. It was a beautiful ski area with amazing views into Canada, Idaho and of the surrounding valley. The only problem was we couldn’t see any of it-there was a dense fog that hung over the mountain-and stayed all day.
It wasn’t only the views it obscured, but also the nuances of the terrain. We were often “thrown off kilter” by the irregularities of the slope as we skied over them. It was disorientating and at times even produced vertigo. There was a definite sense of dis-ease.
The challenge for me was to get out of my focus of what “wasn’t there” and begin to enjoy and embrace this new challenge. I needed the essence of what skiing was still there. I needed to relax and take my focus off what was missing. I needed to enjoy what was.
I am intrigued by the idea of paradox which is holding two opposite ideas at the same time. It is the highest form of critical thinking. So here was my paradox: I know there is more here than I am getting to experience now, yet this is where I am now-so enjoy it. This is a familiar paradox for all of us. It brings to mind navigating the fog of covid, the fog of early stages of parenting, the fog of dealing with aging,--really anyplace we find ourselves disoriented and in the fog.
Where does your mind go as you think of places you are contending with fog right now?
How do you reconcile the knowledge that the metaphorical “views of the mountains and the exhilaration of life are still there-just obscured by fog.
This tension between where I am now and where I’d like to be is where I get to wrestle with myself and God. It is the space of transformation. It is the spiritual journey.
I love this quote by David Benner on the spiritual journey.
“When applied to the spiritual life, the metaphor of a journey is both helpful and somewhat misleading. Helpfully it reflects the fact that the essence of spirituality is a process-specifically, a process of transformation. Unhelpfully, it obscures the fact that we are already what we seek and where we long to arrive-specifically, in God. Once we realize this, the nature of the journey itself is to be more one of awakening than accomplishment, more of spiritual awareness than spiritual achievement “
Richard Rohr puts it this way, “we cannot attain the presence of God. We’re already totally in the presence of God. What’s absent is awareness.”
When I recognize that I am already in the presence of God, is when I can relax and accept the fog and embrace it.