My apologies for the late post. I promise that everything I recount for this week is at least as accurate as any other week. We woke to heavy fogs most of the mornings of this week. I love the mysterious feeling in the air of a fog. Those eyes you depend so much on are powerless against it, and you must settle just to see less. Who knows what could emerge from the fog just beyond your sight? A deer? An eagle? Someone else. The tall trees come up out of the fog, reaching through it, but you are less sure what lies at their trunk. It is a completely new world to walk through, even to the resident.
Memphis Conference Retired Pastors paid us a visit this week. It is such a joy to set around the table and soak up all the stories and knowledge that is passed around by this group in conversation. So often with the practicing clergy, you hear talk of theology and politics, what should be done at the next Annual Conference, etc: topics important for us to be mindful of, for sure. But, there is something much more relaxing about setting with the pastors who do not have to worry quite so much about these matters anymore, recalling the greatest stories of their lives. I talked with the Calhouns about their trip to Israel and Egypt. Pat told me about seeing the Pyramids and the Valley of the Kings. Jim joked that after-all, Pat was around when they were built. I’m not sure where Jim was forced to sleet that night, but we got a good laugh from it.
On my runs, of late, I’ve noticed many more deer out along the road, grazing. We are in the very early days of the deer mating season, and you see so many more. They are also beginning to change colors from a bright gold brown to a grayer, dusty brown. While running this week, I came upon a young buck, he had a rack of just barely four points. I stopped running just to watch him, and he looked up at me for a moment. After a while, when I had inched a little too close to him, he retreated for the woods. I stayed to watch him, though. He then turned and ran back in my direction, but veered in a different direction to cross the street towards those woods. I thought about how he, in deer time, must be a young guy, just out on his own, still figuring things out. I ran on.
One morning, I was walking up to the Conference Center for breakfast on the road below the Shanklin Hillside Cabin. I looked out from the hill to the shore and towards the river. A fog still stretched out across it. The sun had not been out long enough to shoo it away completely. The fog was such that you could not see the far shore. If you did not know it, you might believe that the river just went on forever, and no one could tell you different. I wanted to hop a canoe and paddle out into that mist. Though reason certainly said that I knew exactly what was on the other side (potentially a giant barge), I wanted to believe that this fog might be shielding something new to me.
As I look out over all these things, wondering all the questions that enter my mind each day, I think of what Paul said: “We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us! But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love.” And, for now, that is enough.