Sunday, January 22, 2012


At 6:45 p.m, I went to school to work. Having spent a good portion of my Sunday morning and afternoon working at home, I was already wearing out, but I knew that I needed to push through and that my work for the evening would require proximity to a printer and copier, so grading at home would not be an option.

I left school at 12:30 a.m. I accomplished a lot, but what I have left to do still feels daunting, discouraging, overwhelming. I didn't finish everything I set out to do despite working as tirelessly and efficiently as I could.

Biking home past midnight during the winter is an experience that I'd never had before. The bike-ride between school and home is an easy 5-minute jaunt along the river. At least, it is usually easy. Tonight, as I coasted down the short slope to the path along the river, I was surprised to see a thick shroud of fog hovering precisely above the river and the bike-paths that run on either side. There was nothing gradual about entering the fog--one moment, I could see and the next I couldn't.

Well, technically, I could discern the glow of the streetlights shining above the path every 20 meters or so, and occasionally I could catch the outline of the fence separating the path from the river to my right. And, I could hear the river. However, I couldn't see it; couldn't see much of anything. To make matters worse, it was a crisp 3˚C out, and my every exhalation sent a blast of air warm enough to steam up my glasses. I tried breathing out through my nose, but that didn't help. So, I biked a little slower than usual. The 5-minute bike ride became an 8-minute bike ride and not at all easy or jaunty. I biked carefully, listening for the river and watching for shadows and outlines through the dual-layers of fog that could perhaps keep me from colliding with a fence on one side or a wall of hedges on the other.

My mind played tricks on me; the distance seemed to grow exponentially from what I remembered. Several times, I thought I must be getting close to the main road only to find the path continuing into the hazy darkness.

Finally, after what seemed an eternity, I could see the bright lights lining the road ahead. As I emerged from the path and turned right on the road, I noticed that I had also emerged from the fog. It was not a clear night, by any means, but for the first time in 8 minutes, I had my sight back.

This is precisely what my last few weeks have been like: familiar job, familiar place, familiar people, but I have been blinded by a fog of stress and exhaustion. No matter how hard I work or how much time I seem to invest, it seems as though the end is elusive and the path ahead long, dark and hazy. I know, however, that the end is not elusive and the path will lead me out of the fog and onto the main road. Eventually, I'll finish all of the grading from first semester, finish the prep for the new semester... and again I will find myself back in the easy, jaunty routine that I love so much.

I needed this encouragement, especially after 6 hours of solid work tonight (that on top of countless more hours over the past week). I am thankful that God gave me the kind of mind that would notice the fog and relate it to a seemingly unrelated challenge in my life.

Now, I am going to bed because I'm tired, and that same mind is falling asleep before the rest of me.

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