This  area of eastern Oregon, once desert land now known for its agriculture, is also known for its winter fog.  In the late fall the shortening days are encaptured in very thick fog. The idioms “Thick as pea soup” or “Its so thick you can cut it with a knife” come to mind as word illustrations for the fog.

As it gets colder the freezing fog sticks to anything that isn’t  moving.  My horses have frozen fog on  tuffs of winter hair  sprouting from their ears. Rusty barbed wire becomes a crystal jewel of frozen delight for the photographer’s eye.  Tumbleweeds  piled high  along  fence lines and sequestered in corners of the yard remind me of  the white flocked Christmas trees mom put up in the  living room of my childhood home.

Fog sticks to sidewalks, to pavement, to flagpoles, glazing over these dull surfaces with  dangerous sheen.  Travel advisories warn of “black ice” and children scream in delight when the early morning call of “No school due to inclement weather” rings through the house.

During the last 13 winters of my career life a 35  minute commute taught me to drive in fog. I did not think I complained about fog. Yet I must have commented enough that my supervisor mentioned it in an employee evaluation. (She also made a number of other random and untrue  comments about my work performance before revealing the true report, but that’s a whole story in itself)

The winter daylight dawned late and the sun slipped away too early  leaving me no natural light to drive to and from work. There were many days like this, driving in dark in fog on the black  ice covered freeway.   Truck off the shoulder and into the ditch on the right.   Passenger vehicle rolls onto stage center left and comes to a rest on its roof.    The more cautious drivers  carefully skirted the accidents and were suddenly alarmed by a 4 wheel drive  monster pick-up barreling  past at 60 mph. It was red. Speeders and maniacs always drive red vehicles.  ( I now have drive a red car) Thirteen winters and I never wrecked.

Static images  appearing out of the fog  become comforting  landmarks.
The flashing light  ahead and slightly up in the sky is actually a cell tower.  This lump of black on the right is a sagebrush. There, up ahead, there’s the  little house that leaves Christmas lights up all winter. In spite of fog and black ice and maniac drivers and wrecks  I had  a sense  of where I was.

I never wrecked.

I felt some comfort having a sense of where I was.

There is a slight elevation gain before Interstate 84 drops down into Pendleton.  Its there where Hope Floats! (not the movie, it just sounded good to write Hope floats)  A break in the low cloud cover reveals the  lightening sky.  White stripes appear against the dark blue  as  jets make their way east into the blaring sunrise.

Escaping from work a little early,  I  borrowed my dad’s little pickup to go night skiing at Spout Springs. Of course, there was fog.   The road was covered in ice and the little Nissan’s fog lights barely pierced the thick grey crud.  Yet just above eye level it was clear and I could see the twinkling  of a million stars in the black black sky.  It created a strange sensation and my eyes became conflicted…
the road or the sky…safety or beauty? Where do I look?

I was conflicted.

Amazing transformations occur when we leave the fog.  The  sudden burst of blinding sunshine puts us in our darkest moment.  And then we are there, in the sunlight.  Such warmth and freedom and truth. St Paul was traveling towards Damascus.  He was not a very good guy.  He persecuted Christians.  Riding along  he entered a territory known for its “light”.  He entered his darkest moment when he was struck by the bright light. The “blindness” of that moment knocked him off his horse, to his knees. And then, he opened his eyes to “see” the “light” that was Christ

Foggy or not, its so easy to get lost in life. Wandering.  Not able to really see where to go. Driving too fast and hard on “slippery slopes”.  Ending  up in the ditch where the foul stuff and garbage  accumulates.   Tipped over upside down and needing help to be extricated from the wreck. Feeling conflicted between security and safety and beauty and the excitement of danger. It may get really dark.  In fact we may become totally “blind” before the “light” reaches us

My sis-in-love MaryRose recently made a Facebook post of the song “Never Been Unloved” by Michael W Smith.  This song reminds me that no matter how we travel in the fog…on the road into the ditch… needing help to be “extricated”… and even tho there is some comfort along the way…familiar sage brush, a blinking light in the sky…a second or so of clear sky overhead…we are always welcome to return to the Light…we are never far away from His love…
I have been unfaithful
I have been unworthy
I have been unrighteous
And I have been unmerciful
I have been unreachable
I have been unteachable
I have been unwilling
And I’ve been undesirable
And sometimes I have been unwise
I’ve been undone by what I’m unsure of
But because of you
And all that you went through
I know that I have never been unloved
I have been unbroken
I have been unmended
I have been uneasy
And I’ve been unapprochable
I’ve been unemotional
I’ve been unexceptional
I’ve been undecided
And I have been unqualified
Unaware – I have been unfair
I’ve been unfit for blessings from above
But even I can see
The sacrifice You made for me
To show that I have never been unloved
Unaware – I have been unfair
I’ve been unfit for blessings from above
But even I can see
The sacrifice You made for me
To show that I have never been unloved
It’s because of you
And all that you went through
                    I know that I have never been unloved         

                                                            My friends..Live on in the Light.

Walking out of the morning fog on the Camino de Santiago Sept 2015