navigating the mist

As I looked out over the Guadalhorce valley in the early morning light, everything was blanketed in mist. The mountains on the opposite side of the valley, usually clearly visible from my balcony, were indecipherable and blurry. The mist changed my view of everything and made it difficult to discern shapes in the landscape, even those that are familiar to me.

Life can be like this sometimes. 

For whatever reason - some shifting weather pattern, a change in the prevailing wind - mist rolls in. The perspective that once felt familiar now takes on a different aspect. The things we saw clearly are now more fuzzy. There is something unfamiliar and disconcerting about this unexpected shrouding of our normal experience.

For me, yet another cross-cultural transition ushered in a particularly misty time. The combination of stage of life, family members' needs, ministry development and the sudden lack of community that accompanied this transition all contributed to a sense that my usual ways of seeing had deserted me in this new and unfamiliar landscape.

If you find yourself in the mist, it is important to know that you are not alone.

It is one thing for me to stand on my balcony and observe the mist, it is another thing altogether to navigate my way in the mist. My normal reference points are no longer helpful, something about the unfamiliarity seems to knock my usual instincts off kilter, and I can become confused and anxious.

Likewise, when life leads us into a place where we see less clearly it can feel very confusing. It could be that transition is heading our way, or perhaps we are facing some reality for which our old ways of processing life and faith are inadequate. Whatever the reason, the things we once took for granted - that we thought would always seem the same somehow - now present themselves to us in a new and possibly disorienting way. The signposts or landmarks we habitually look for are no longer evident. 

Eventually, the mist will clear.

3 navigation tools

In the meantime, there are some things that might help:

1. Don’t panic, stay still.

When we lose our sense of direction, we can flail around in an effort to regain our equilibrium. Better to cultivate stillness, perhaps. Don’t change too much too quickly, but give yourself time to adjust to this new landscape. 

How might you embrace the invitation to become still?

2. Develop new awareness.

Our five physical senses are the way we orientate ourselves in the world. We tend to rely primarily on our vision, but when our sight is limited by darkness or concealment, our other senses kick in. We hear things more acutely, we reach out our hands to let our sense of touch guide us. In a similar way, there are times in life when our old ways of making sense of the world are no longer enough. These are opportunities to develop new ways of relating to ourselves, to God and to others. What could this mean for you?

3. Find a guide.

These mist-shrouded times of life can be the times when we most need a spiritual companion - someone who can listen to our process, who can ask wise questions and help us find new signposts for a new landscape. If you find yourself experiencing a season such as this, consider finding a spiritual director who is trained to accompany you in discerning the presence of God with you in the mist. (If you need help with this, or want to check my own availability, just contact me.)