Wednesday, September 14, 2011

In a Fog

 “But Pacifica is so foggy,” most of my friends and acquaintances say in all seriousness when I mention that my husband and I are thinking of moving there.  As if we might be enveloped in white mist never to be seen again, as if fog is something to be feared.

Pacifica is also home to a portion of the San Andreas fault—a routinely active fault—that runs through parks and open spaces, paralleling Interstate 280 in the northern peninsula, skirting backyards along Skyline Boulevard and other streets, like Imperial Avenue, where homes offer spectacular ocean views in exchange for treacherous footing.  Years ago, I worked on an earthquake safety campaign for a central California city also near the fault line, and I’ve lived through my share of fairly large quakes—one that struck Simi Valley when I was a child, and the Loma Prieta quake that destroyed eleven homes on my street in the Santa Cruz mountains, miraculously sparing ours from damage.  I’ve lived with days of aftershocks, our entire congregation springing to our feet during worship, mistaking the movement of a room divider for another temblor.  A fault seems a reasonable thing to fear, a reason not to locate on a particular street, even a particular town.  But fog?

I think about fog.  It’s cold and damp and hard to see through.  It blocks the sun, but waters outdoor plants, is worse in summer in Pacifica, and burns off (usually in the afternoons) eventually––even with climate change.  It all seems manageable.  I could wear jeans and sweatshirts for the rest of my life, not missing bathing suits or shorts and the sight of my puffy ankles, wrinkled kneecaps and bruised shins.  I could turn lights on in my house, carry a cup of hot tea throughout the day, and avoid driving in zero visibility.  

I can’t seem to muster genuine trepidation about fog, but sometimes I worry that I’m missing something, that I’m too careless in my dismissal of other’s foggy fears.

I think about how I’ve reacted to others who have embarked on relationships, taken career paths, and moved places I would never choose for myself.  Often, I have worried about what will happen to me in their new plan, and if we’ve been close, I’ve been afraid of being left behind, forgotten.  At my best, I can set my selfishness aside and be genuinely happy and supportive.  I’ve never thrown myself at a friend’s feet and pleaded, “don’t move (to England, or Ohio, or Spokane),” but I’ve felt like it imagining the hole in my life that person will leave.  Long distance calls and letters (and now Facebook) make the gap smaller, but don’t prevent it.  And sometimes, instead of saying honestly, “I will miss you,” or “It will be hard for me without you in my daily life,” I’ve said things like, “Doesn’t it snow there?”  As if my friend might answer, “Yes, and I hate snow, so I’ll stay here with you and life will go on exactly the same.”  As if she might ignore God’s call in her life and make mine easier instead.  And when I think about it that way, I recognize that it’s my fear and distress speaking, and that it has very little to do with my friend.

So, yes, dear ones, it is foggy in Pacifica.  But I’m not afraid of fog.  I’ve been afraid of many things for many years, but I want to leave fear behind and step out in faith.  I’m ready for the next adventure in my married life and to leave this town we’ve lived in for 23 years when the time comes.  I will miss you and the redwoods and the place you’ve had in my daily life, and when I do leave, our lives will be different, our relationships will change.

Our future might be too foggy to predict, but God will be there, guiding, calling, beckoning.  I hope we are all brave enough to follow.

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