Rev Philip Cox writes about being in a fog and other uncomfortable and distressing situations, and how we are never really alone…
Prior to the Clean Air Act, many of our towns and cities were plagued with ‘pea-soupers’ at this time of year. Yellow, acrid, sulphurous smoke blotted out familiar landmarks and reminded us of the days of Sherlock Holmes and Charles Dickens. Today we see similar scenes in the newly industrialised Asian cities such as Mombai and Beijing. Whilst the most unpleasant effects have been eliminated from our environment, it remains the case that Keat’s, “Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness”, can still produce thick fog which threatens life if you’re on the M25 or half-way up (or down) Snowdon.
Meanwhile, fog metaphors are reminders that the experience of being fog-bound is discomforting. We cannot see clearly; sounds are muffled and we can lose our sense of direction. This may be summed up in the phrase, “I haven’t the foggiest”. In today’s Britain there seems to be an increase in people who cannot see the way ahead despite 150 years of state education and the availability of the media and the world-wide web.
Some of us are confused by endless debate between opposing viewpoints; many are suspicious whether they are being told the truth, others suspect the issues are just too great for human minds to grapple with. At an international level, Climate Change, the Financial Crisis, the War on Terror; here at home, pensions, youth unemployment, disaffected groups, housing shortages represent a few examples.
If you’re in a fog, it’s unlikely to be a good idea to blunder blindly on in the hope the weather will change; nor will threatening to sue the Met. Office improve your situation.
As we journey on in God’s world, our progress will be happier and more meaningful if we adopt some of the practices that enable us to live through a fog. We need a foundation on which we can feel secure – we are more likely to panic if we are rootless. We need to acknowledge our situation and our need of help. We need patience and confidence that things will improve.
The message of Jesus is that we are never alone and we can always reach out to Him. The Gospel tells us that faith is the bedrock on which to build our lives. The Bible as a whole promises that all will be well for those whose trust is in God.
Finally, we fortunately spend many days in the sun when times are good and the way ahead sees clear. These, too, are days for prayer and reflection. Jesus wants us to share everything with him – our joys and our sorrows, our certainties and our doubts, our ‘blue-sky thinking’ and our ‘I haven’t the foggiest.