The New Year rang in at midnight.
When I went for a walk this morning, I was engulfed by a shroud of fog that had settled on Chestnut Mountain. The long views of mountains and valleys were impossible to see; the loss of clarity and light were as dramatic as a blackout shade drawn across a hotel window. As the minutes passed, some rays of light began to penetrate the amorphous clouds that swathed the landscape. As the sun heated the earth’s surface, a small rent was cut in the fog and an ever-welcomed brilliance illuminated first the sky, then settled to the ground.
I was reminded of the ride I used to make to Burlington, Vermont in the mid-1980’s. I traveled there biweekly for my job; headquarters were housed in Burlington. Just past White River Junction, VT, Rt. 89 North starts to wind and curve in smooth undulations like waves across the mountains. On an early morning drive, dense fog was apt to close in around the car in a thick, white mist. I would strain my eyes and ears for sensory cues, but the world five feet past the hood ornament was obscured.
Abruptly, my car would pull away from the shroud and, from a slightly higher vantage point, an azure sky with an unlimited ceiling would be revealed. Brilliant sunlight would turn drops of moisture on the tree limbs to glittering displays of opulent beauty. The splendor would, just as suddenly, be withdrawn when my car lost altitude and all I could see was thick, enveloping fog.
Twenty-six years ago I wrote,
My life seems to be charted on a road much like 89 North. There are periods when my future stretches before me in crystalline clarity. There is a sense of forward, directed movement. Then, abruptly, I am plunged into a pocket of muddled vision in which I struggle to negotiate the changing path, lose sight of my direction, and fail to see the landmarks for my calling.I went on to say,
When I let go of trying to dictate how things must be, everything becomes easier. I maintain my intentions, but I trust that the periods of confusion, doubt and fog will lift. By releasing my attachment to an outcome and by letting go my feelings of fear, anger and doubt, I can change my experience of the ride. It is like shining an illuminating light that better enables me to enjoy the scenery.
The remarkable fact that I was as struck by the play of light and fog a quarter century ago as I am today leads me to believe there must be something enduring about my reflections.
Today, January 1, 2012, out of an apparent white blanket of sameness, two chairs emerged. As I approached them, I saw, overhead, a pattern of green and white light tipping the branches of a white pine. Light mist settled on everything. It felt cool and soothing on my face as I turned it upward toward the sky. Behind my closed eyes, I sensed a change in light. When I opened them, a honey-rich shade of yellow light replaced the pall of the morning. My eye was drawn to a detail I had previously overlooked. There, by the front step, a rose bud had formed despite winter’s harsh temperatures and wind. A more symbolic representation of hope I could not hope to find. Its red petals, tightly wrapped, could not be more perfect or more full of promise.