Its been over two weeks since I’ve given an update about this interim adventure. Two weeks since that cold race in Millinocket, that last commitment on my calendar for the fall, before this, before the last two weeks.
Its taken me two weeks to even begin to imagine how to write about such a time, this time in the interim when you’ve gone off map. The time of trusting that the trail is still winding through the woods before you though the path grown darker, foggier. The way forward, unclear.
A couple of days after the Millinocket race, I met my colleague Aram for a walk along the Presumpscot River Trail. A trail that began where I never expected to find one, at a col-du-sac on the edge of a suburban neighborhood lit in early December with a scattering of Christmas lights.
I go back to look at the pictures – lots of brown leaves, gray fog, cold and damp, a slight mist turned to drizzle. I remember hearing that beech trees are the last to lose their leaves. Perhaps they’re beech still holding on in an evergreen forest of dark wet trunks covered with patches of green. A picture of the tips of my shoes looking down on more brown leaves. Drips of water on the ends of white pine needles. So cold, so damp and so looking forward to this walk.
I’ve been gifted with many such walks and conversations like we had that day in the past weeks. I think how grateful I am for friends and family who have held a listening space in the fog that helps me find words for what I discern of this season’s beckoning. A stirring and not sure where it all leads. What I know is this joy, in putting my feet to the trail.
It’s a day not unlike another day I’d have a week later in Brattleboro, Vermont. I’d come over the night before to avoid the freezing rain predicted for that morning and sure enough I wake to yet another gray fog, this time wet and slippery. I pause on my morning run over the bridge to take a picture down the Connecticut River.
I think of a little boat set out to sea with such high hopes and expectation, such anticipation of finding their way, and soon, to the other side but now, caught in the fog. There is no going back. No way to see forward. Just here, in the middle of it. Wind dying, fog descending, boat rocking. Nowhere to go, nothing to do but listen, wait, watch, dream.
Foggy times are Advent time. Waiting, waiting for the fog to lift. For the skies to clear. And yet, the fog keeps descending.
And in the fog, questions:
Can I trust myself, trust my intuition, my sense of knowing?
Trust this way I sense ahead?
Trust what I see and feel to be true?
Trust that what I see ahead in the shadows is really there?
It’s is not an easy place to be in the fog of a liminal time. But as a colleague reminds me, you can’t lead people deeper than you have been and are willing to go yourself. Times like this he reminds me are times that none of us know what to do with. What I know is that if I can stay awake through this time and remain present to it, I may have something to say, something to witness to on the other side.
As I think of this foggy time, I remember another, not so long ago. Remember these weeks back right after I left Boothbay Harbor and days out hiking alone along the Appalachian Trail, somewhere half-way between Caratunk and Monson. Sitting there on the bank of the river for an hour, two, and watching the fog lift.
There was nothing unsettling or scary or hard about this fog. It just was fog, just fog. I didn’t need clarity or answers, I didn’t need it to be different or to clear or go away. I gave myself to it, to the watching and listening. To the immersion in it.
The remembering of that other morning in the fog helps me find my way in this one. The way is not yet clear. It’s just a time for fog. The fog like that day I trust will one day clear.
I surprise myself by telling a friend yesterday what I know: I am well in this liminal space and time. I am at home. I have a job. It’s just not the home that comes with four walls and a mortgage payment and the job brings no paycheck and does not come with health insurance. But I am at home, so at home here and now and I am doing the job, the work that needs doing.
Two years ago I sat at this same kitchen table writing towards a future I could not see. Today, I see a lot more than I did two years ago. Though there is fog, much more is clear. It’s a time for listening, for conversations and wonder. A time not to rush ahead but to take small steps. A time to take stock of what is true, what I know and all I do not. Yes, perhaps here in the fog I don’t need to do anything but to be true to this unknowing, this wonder, this listening, this stirring in the middle of all the questions.