Your hands grip the wheel. You sit up straighter. Every cell in your body is alert. You would pull off somewhere, but you truly can't see a thing.
I imagine that many of you feel that, in our present culture, we are driving through fog. Everything is muddled. Details are obscured. We can become so easily lost.
Sister Ruth Burrows, OCD, wants to help us make sense of the cultural and religious fog we seem to be trapped in. (By the way, if you are unfamiliar with the abbreviations of Catholic religious orders, OCD stands for Order of Discalced Carmelites. I know you were thinking obsessive-compulsive disorder.)
Sister Ruth writes:
We must move into the shadowy mists of detachment. Far on the horizon, see - God appears, and his coming spreads a mist over all the earth. We should want this silencing, shadowing mist, that cuts us off from unnecessary things - things that are not him for us. We cannot truly see them until he comes, so it is better to live in the mist - detachments, silence of desire - accepting the mystery. We must shroud our souls in Advent mist.
What?? I have to move into mists and fogs? How will I ever see God clearly if I do that? I can't even see my own hand in front of my face!
First, remember that God is mystery. Yes, we can know Him, but not fully, not in this life. We catch glimpses of Him in our sacraments, in Scripture, in those around us.
I think Sister's big point here is: stop relying on yourself. Stop stockpiling "stuff" in order to fill up that God-shaped hole each of us has. Everything we know, see, hear and touch in this world is distorted - we cannot see its full beauty or its full ugliness.
What we have to do, says Sister Ruth, is plop down and get very comfortable in the foggy mist. If we do so while fully trusting in God, He will not only keep us safe (and here I mean our true "us" - our souls), but He will reveal Himself at the right time.
We have to get comfortable with the fog. That means silence. Give yourself time and space to pray be shutting off the noise in your world. We must detach ourselves from all things that take our attention away from God, or worse, putting someone or something in the place where only God can be.
Even tougher: we have to trust that God has allowed this fog, and He will lift it when He knows it is the right time. Our job is to sit and prayerfully wait.
Perhaps when you were little, a parent gave you the lesson my dad gave us: if you get lost in the woods (which was a very real scenario for us), STOP MOVING AROUND. Sit and wait, Dad said, and we will find you. If you keep moving, it makes it harder and harder for you to be found.
In this Advent season, sit and wait. Be calm. Get comfortable with silence. Ponder what parts of your life you need to detach from.
Most importantly, know that God is with you in this foggy dew. You are not lost. Be patient. And God will reveal Himself. Yes, there in the mist and fog: God is there. What upon Him.