I am blessed with a husband with a remarkable sense of humor, the kind that suddenly illuminates a moment with not only color but the emotional relief of laughter, or LOL, as we say today. (And here I thought LOL meant little old lady.)
As we drove to church this morning we left our sun shafted valley and moved slowly into a bank of low fog, creeping in from San Francisco farther than usual. We entered the fog as one enters a quiet tomb, and my husband said, “Oh, it must be ground fog day.” I did indeed laugh out loud at the simple pun, feeling rather like the groundhog retreating back into her foggy hole. Was this really high summer in California? And had I really lived sixty-four years without ever hearing this pun? Once said, it seemed so obvious.
The week had been one of great challenge, and the moment of laughter was welcome. I looked at my cut roses I held for the Children’s Chapel, and I said my prayers as we traveled through the tunnel to church, to worship God on Sunday as he commands us to do.
I thought how life was probably as simple as that pun. Probably as obvious as well. I also considered that living a good life, a joyous life, was just as illusive. The fog does surround us, blanketing the good, the true, the beautiful. Blanketing the road signs. There are many distractions in our world that chill our bones, eat at our souls, pull us to not see, to not hear, to not believe, to not obey. Yet goodness, truth, and beauty are all around us. God is with us, waiting, listening, watching our every choice, deeply loving us regardless, and at times I would guess, deeply heartbroken. We need to cut through the fog. We need to worship God at least on Sundays, follow his simple rules if we want to see him, if we want to hear his voice, know his love.
Saturday was the Feast of the Transfiguration, one of my favorite holy days. It is a story of a cloud descending and covering. It is a story of the voice of God.
Saint Luke tells us that Christ takes Peter, James, and John to a mountain to pray (Luke 9:28+). As Jesus prays, “the fashion of his countenance was altered, and his raiment was white and glistering.” Then Moses and Elijah appear and Jesus foretells his death. Peter, in his usual boldness, jumps into the conversation and suggests making three altars so that they could hold onto the moment, keep it with them. Then the cloud descends “and they feared as they entered into the cloud.” They hear God’s voice, “This is my beloved Son: hear him.”
I have always loved this vision of prayer – the altered countenance, the shining raiment. But as we entered the fog this morning I thought of the descending cloud and the fear. ”This is my beloved Son: hear him.”
Simple instructions heard through the fog. A voice remembered when the fog lifts. Hear him.
In the Epistle for this Feast of the Transfiguration, Peter writes to the churches not to forget: “keep… these things always in remembrance. For we have not followed cunningly devised fables… but were eyewitnesses of his majesty.” (2 Peter 1.13+)
Indeed, he was an eyewitness on that mountain. He entered the fog and heard God’s command. He feared. This was no cunning fable.
There are times in our lives when confusion seems to reign, when the right choice is not always clear. Yet I have found that when I pray for help with the choice, when I look at the choice in light of God’s commandments, the path becomes clear. Confusion continues to swirl, blanketing me like the fog. But God’s voice is clear.
Then the ground fog melts, watering the earth, and the sun shines, white and glistering.