It is Monday morning and as I walk to breakfast with my eyes firmly fixed on the dark-sky-slipping-toward-light ahead of me, I am thinking about fog. I am, after all, in the Bay area and there is plenty of it. I’m actively resisting pulling out my phone to try and capture what I see all around me, because I know it cannot be done. What I see defies at least my current level of photographic talent — the subtle puffs of white, still clinging to the hill tops and valleys as the sun, painting its tell-tale deep pink stripes across the still grey-black sky in its attempt to chase those puffs away.
I spent much of Saturday morning driving through and walking through fog in the marshes of the San Pablo Bay Nature Reserve. It was incredibly beautiful, but the fog made photography difficult. You see, what I know now since I’ve uploaded my shots is this: even in those moments when I thought that the fog had cleared and gone, it was still there — just enough remaining to obscure my (and the camera’s) vision. Many of the pictures were very different from the scenes I believed that I saw.
Metaphor? Well, yes…but maybe one more subtle than I might have expected. I thought I saw clearly, and yet a film (ever so slight) remained over the scene. The camera could see it, but I could not.
For those of you wondering what I am doing here in San Francisco (technically, San Anselmo in Marin, County), I am here learning, well, to be the camera. I have begun formal training in the practice of spiritual direction. Basically, a spiritual director’s job is to (along with God, the real director) see that subtle film of fog over life and , like a harbor master with a boat captain, steer you through it towards…well, I would say towards God but you might have a different name for your destination. And that’s okay.
Meeting the fog this weekend, I realized that fog, will, just is. It really has not intention other than being fog. It bears us no malice; it does not intentionally try to keep us from seeing. It is just being, well, fog. And when the light shines bright enough and warm enough, it will stop being fog and go on to its next form. There is great beauty and peace in that process, which is so like our own.
So I will go out and walk among the fog again this morning, both that provided by the Pacific ocean and the rolling hills that surround me and that provided by my own spirit. Maybe I’ll find a great camera along the way.