"I need to be silent / for a while, / worlds are forming / in my heart." ~Meister Eckhart, excerpt translated by Daniel Ladinsky
I fear the fog when it rolls in—not the outdoor kind of fog, but rather the inner fog that seems to separate me from my surroundings, insulating me from everyday life.I talk too much. I fear it because it can feel so much like the descent into depression's black pit.
But I'm learning that there's another kind of fog that I encounter in my life that, when I pay attention to it, can be a help to me rather than a gateway into darkness. Because even though the swirling fog can feel disorienting and misleading when looking outward, it is always there to help me find my way by forcing me to stop looking outward and look inward instead.
As the swirling fog rolls in, the words of those around me tend to fade into the sounds that the adults always made in Charlie Brown TV specials. I struggle to piece together these warped, distorted sounds into meaningful statements to which I can intelligently respond, but the sounds fade into oblivion faster than I can interpret them. I am left grasping at disconnected shards of meaning to which I can imagine no response.
Most of the time, I talk too much—at least I do with those people with whom I feel comfortable or have a close relationship. (This is one of those weaknesses of mine that I'm both learning to accept as part of who I am and still working (gently) to improve upon.)
But when the fog rolls in, my words seem to dry up like a stream in prolonged drought. I know that words are expected in social encounters and that conversations require that I speak, but the well has run dry, and I have nothing to offer. I dig deep and find only blankness and haze where thought used to flow.
It takes so much energy to function (semi-)normally during seasons like this. The fog keeps me off-balance and oblivious to my surroundings. I lose my way easily in tasks and conversations and routine activities.
This sounds more like a curse than a gift, and I admit that I've often found it so, but I'm learning that these times come when something big is stirring beneath the surface of my life that needs my attention.
When the rest of the world becomes muffled and distorted, there is nothing else to do but enter the silence. And it is there in the silence to which the fog has ushered me that I find the space to listen deep within to the quiet murmurings of what is shifting in my subterranean depths. It is in that muffled stillness that new life can arise in the form of clarified direction, deeper self-understanding, the accelerated healing of wounds, renewed creative juices, or transformed ways of being in this world.
The fog becomes a gift that gently detaches me from my busy, noisy, outer world and points me to the new worlds that are forming in my heart. When I embrace the muffled silence and use it as a time to listen more deeply in that inner direction, it becomes a gentle, loving friend who keeps the darkness away.
And so I find myself growing still, being silent, stretching to hear those new forming new worlds more clearly. The fog swirls its magic coat around me, and all is well.
Have you even encountered times in your life when you felt the need to be silent and still and turn your listening inward?