Opening the door to walk outside in the wee hours of this morning I was enveloped within windless fog. As I drove to the running trail for PT, my vehicle’s fog lights shot lances of white light into thick vapor for the drive. Normally I see whitetails grazing beside the roads. Today, however, I saw nothing but a black sow that had been hit by a vehicle as she attempted to cross the road. The deer and wild hogs abound here, so they are comfortable–and sometimes too comfortable, as was the case with this sow–with human contact.
When I arrived I parked and started my warmup on the running path. A runner, going clockwise on the path, passed me. Breathing heavily from the hill he’d just ascended, he appeared–even in the fog and dark–to have run several miles already. I knew him to be a strong runner and he was sweating heavily.
As I rounded curves on the running path, the heaviness of the fog haunted me. I am not one to watch or read the horror genre, but if one were looking for eerie cinematography, today’s predawn hours would have satisfied. I heard no wildlife either. Usually at this time you can hear the frogs in their choir, the cicadas if the season’s right, or birds stirring. But this morning, only silence, fog, the smell of water in the air.
Mornings like these remind me of what I have read hundreds of times–that man is a vapor, a mist. James put it this way: “yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes” (4:14).
It is humbling. It is instructive. When I know from experience that this thick fog and mist will be burned away in a few hours, and this heavy silence will be stolen by the sound of the day’s labors, many will be tempted to forget this fog, this solitude and silence, and the fact that it is all so fleeting. We have only so much time to do that which we are called to do, and I feel it viscerally. It is as enveloping as this fog.