• “Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple. Dr. Suess

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

FOG coming

Sometimes we know where we want to go,
and how to get there.

We can see with clarity problems ahead,
make plans, and even try to prepare in every conceivable way.

We traveled home this week from a short trip.
We knew the road and we knew the season:
both can be difficult, both can be dangerous.
We have traveled in the area before.
We were prepared. We were blessed.
We arrived safely.

top centre shows freeway winding through snowy hills

We  experienced blue skies and dense fog on our recent homeward trip. I have been thinking about it since then. The experience left an indelible image in my mind that will likely last the rest of my life. It is the image of blue clear skies above a thick blanket of cloud that can be warned about and then in the distance seen. Sometimes we can not avoid such experiences and must go through such 'narrow' places.

We traveled for several hours on a beautiful sunny December day along clear, mostly dry, roads. Temperatures were above freezing and icy patches from earlier in the day had melted to bare, wet pavement.

 As we neared Cabbage Hill in Oregon a reader board and flashing lights warned us about thick fog ahead. It was hard to believe or imagine as we drove through the sunshine but these warning signs are usually accurate. They often are placed at locations of safety and clarity to help travelers choose safe options and prevent accidents and sorrow. We expected to have some reduced visibility on the hill because it is quite high and steep. It can be like driving into the clouds going up it and coming out of them going down.  Strangely there were few clouds visible except distantly over the mountains.

Elder David A. Bednar spoke of such warning signs recently and instructed listeners about happiness and safety in families. These warning signs made me think of his General Conference talk: there is hope, there is help, there are blue skies, God IS real and does love each of us. There is a plan! It is the plan of happiness.

As  we crested the top of the downgrade and began to thread our way down the hill toward the hairpin turns we could see a thick blanket of cloud completely obscuring the valley and views below. I wondered how far we would have to drive through the cloud/fog and how thick it might be. I even got out our camera.  I thought it might be fun to video going into and out of dense cloud/fog.

As  we approached closer and closer time seemed suspended - is it around this bend? over this next drop? behind this view blocking wall of rock the road cuts through? I decided we were close enough to turn on the camera. [Please ignore the crack that began the winter after a large rock, dislodged from between semi tires, smacked into our windshield on another trip - we ignore it all the time - at least until we get together money to replace it by paying our insurance deductible.]

The fog never materialized around that bend - it was still ahead. Our fog lights were on.  We have a stable car with good tires. The roadway was dry and the lanes clearly marked.  Also the freeway was divided and had excellent side guardrails.  Oncoming traffic, separated from us by embankments and rails, would not be a factor and traffic traveling with us was very light.  We knew we were going to have this experience and  could not predict with certainty exactly when or the outcome.

We have traveled in severely reduced visibility in the past. Would this be worse? or not as bad? There was no turning back or aside or stopping. Only time would tell. We slowed down significantly. Past experience (and wise counsel) help us to negotiate potential hazards.

Sometimes it is hard to not literally or figuratively lose our way (even when we know where we are going) as we experience overwhelming trauma or other unforeseeable circumstances that obscure those plans and destinations in ways that seem beyond our abilities to comprehend or endure.

Elder Deiter F. Ucthdorf , in a talk entitled "Prayer and the Blue Horizon" spoke about such times and the solutions that will lift us above clouds of despair or darkened and difficult stormy times. When we encounter such times they can seem as obscuring fog that hides all views and even taxes our memory of clear skies, better and possible sunny days, and even the destinations and desires that are real but require our constant focus and persistent efforts to claim.

Elder Uchtdorf explained the hope and help that accompany God's ways, commandments and plan. I reiterate - there is hope, there is help, there are blue skies and the plan is The Plan of Happiness. It is His gift to us!

As soon as we entered the bank of cloud all view of the blue above and the world around us ended.

It wasn't nearly as bad as the worst we imagined - except it did not end.  It lessened but we continued in fog for many hours all the way home - with sometimes less, and sometimes more visibility! Holding the picture of blue skies securely in my mind, imaging them above us clear and bright, seemed to lessen the fog. It definitely made it more bearable even after darkness deepened and visibility lessened more. Even in the later darkness of night coming on I could imagine a clear starlit sky with all below bathed in moonlight. I knew with surety that the confines of the experience had limits and were temporary.

That is how we spent most of Christmas Eve - in a fog!