Whenever I encounter a fog I experience the same response. At first, a sense of awe at the beauty and mystery. I’ve watched fog cross mountain peaks and settle low on the dirty streets of New York City. I’ve stood in a chilly morning stream fly fishing as fog dances across the water like a wispy ballerina. I’m a fan of God's creative flare. Fog forms when the difference between the temperature and dew point is five degrees or less. At this point, even a small amount of water transforms into a gas and becomes visibly suspended in the atmosphere. The mystery of fog draws me and makes me lose myself in wonder.
After a brief sense of awe, I then remember how dangerous this natural phenomenon can be. In 1977 a convocation of circumstances caused one of the airline industry’s worst disasters. On the tiny Island of Tenerife in the Canary Islands two 747's became aimless and confused in an unexpected fog. Miscommunication led one pilot to attempt a take-off while the other was assured it would be safe to cross the runway. The two 747's crashed and burned on the runway, and the collision killed 575 people. Fog creates conditions that are very dangerous, especially when humans act with normal operational assumptions.
I must admit that on the most basic personal level I have been living in a fog of grief. I don’t mean the emotional confusion you experience at first, when death robs you and your aching heart can’t find its footing. I’m talking about later in the process of grief. The danger is not the fog as much as my assumption that I can navigate as if I’m under normal conditions. At best, fog is God's warning to us that conditions change and it’s best to be still. Fog is attractive to the grieving because it covers the ugly reality of our lives. Fog can be a beautiful and welcome break from our aching pain. However, to attempt normal movement forward in fog puts us at great risk of damage and destruction. This is a time when communication with the tower is critical. Following instructions is fundamental. Repeating commands, questions and caution should and must rule.
Fog is beautiful and dangerous, and thank God it doesn’t last. It burns off when the sun rises and warms the glowing amber earth. The wisest counsel to my soul in a fog is from the very heart of God.
Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen,
I will be exalted in the earth. The LORD of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah.
Psalm 46:10-11 (KJV)
I gladly confess that I have no one in whom to trust but the Lord. I joyfully conclude that He alone is my refuge and strength, a very present help in times of trouble, therefore I will not fear the fog or the grief of my life.