if there lurks in most modern minds the notion that to desire our own good and earnestly to hope for the enjoyment of it is a bad thing, i submit that this notion has crept in from kant and the stoics and is no part of the Christian faith. indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that our Lord finds our desires, not too strong, but too weak. we are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. we are far too easily pleased.
a few days ago i went on a run on a foggy morning. it was one of the first runs back after two weeks of vacation of not running at all...needless to say it was a slog. i had been avoiding running hills in particular since, well, my legs seemed to have grown a distaste for them, but today i forced myself face the challenge.
i had my iPod in and my eyes to the ground because to look up at the hill that lay above me was just would have meant instant defeat and retreat. and, with the fog all around, visibility was hindered. to put it differently: there was no expectation to see anything worth looking up for, no hope for clarity in the heavy blanket of grey encasing me.
i checked the time and it was nearly time to turn around on this out-and-back trudge, so i chanced a glance up.
i stopped moving immediately.
without being aware, i had run out of the fog bank. i was above the clouds and the dawn sunshine was all about me. how had i not noticed?
i kicked myself for not having a camera being so truck by the beauty of what lay below and beyond from my aerial perspective.
last night, i had a conversation with my friend about the brilliance of the scene. i lamented to her about my lack of a camera, and then we philosophized on how, quite often, in moments of awe it is best to simply be, to remain fully presence and not be so fixated on trying to capture it - because in the end, our attempts at capturing such things fall so far short of the witnessing of them.
then, this morning i woke up to fog.
it was Christmas day.
i was filled with childish glee. and i quickly got ready to go run up the hill i'd run a few days before.
i meditated briefly on the wisdom i had learned in the conversation from the night before - the whole bit on being present and not being feverish to capture moments of wonder. i could have left my camera at home, i contemplated the shame of willfully being a hypocrite literally hours after finding metaphysical resolve to not always need to document and share things i find inspiring...i truly did consider it for a moment, but caved and was off, camera in tow.
this time i ran with my head up. i reveled in the fog. drinking it in. taking in each stage of it, it's subtle changes, as i ran upwards. i found it to be a gift.
on the journey, i had expectations of the marvel to come, recalling the experience before. every few minutes gazing toward the horizon to see if i was nearing the cloud-bank ceiling.
i kept stopping short of the full glory of perspective. once a few feet above the ceiling i stopped to take it in, and took a photo.
but curiosity beckoned me onward, so i ran a bit further and got to the summit of the view and i realized how foolish i would have been to stop where i first had, how much i would have missed if i would not have expected and hoped for something more.
being a glutton for metaphor, i couldn't help but see one in this experience. so...if you've stayed with me thus far, bare with me a bit further.
quite often in my own walk with God, i feel like i have no clarity on where i'm going. i feel burdened by blindness - that i'm in a fog. sometimes, i get to such a place of heightened discouragement that i cease to expect to ever rise above it, i grow rather convinced that the dawning light of direction doesn't even exist anymore, not for me.
it is then that i find myself in a state of hoping for little, and just trying to get by in the seemly forever state of grey. my life path seems a continual climb into never-ending lack of vision. but i labor onward, out of habit, out of desperate need for distraction.
then without recognizing the gentle evolution, i find myself suddenly out of the fog with clarity around. and the beauty of the sight is paralyzing. and i'm tempted to dwell there forever, to cling to the relief of vision - i crave the comfort of complacency. but God calls me onward, to more work for Him, and then i see that laboring further gives a perspective that exceed the glory of before, the place i told myself was as good as it gets.
vision is not a gift without the fog. it is not glorious without periods of blindness and uncertainty. i'm thankful that God's creation reminds us of such truths.