Last week for my "Monday Morsel" I posted a Celtic prayer about the mist hiding the hills and the rain hiding the sun (read it again here). Yesterday on my morning walk I had a vivid object lesson on the same subject.
I took Jonathan to school and then continued on my walk alone, since the friend I usually walk with on Tuesday mornings wasn't available this week. The sun had been shining when I left home, but the morning fog had obscured it by this time. As I got closer to the lake, the fog grew thicker, and I could hear the foghorns in the harbour. I noticed how the maple trees' autumn colours stood out in much stronger relief against the gray sky -- and there were so many colours, from a dark almost-black wine, to a bright orange that looked more like the coating on a Dorito than anything found in nature, to a warm, transparent yellow. Many spots along the sidewalk were thick with fallen leaves, making my walking poles skid and slip as I walked.
I went down the steep hill of Beverly Street; when I reached King Street I turned right and headed west. There was no wind, but the foggy air felt damp and cool on my face and hands. When I reached the next major intersection I turned right by the Kingston Penitentiary and started north on Sir John A. Macdonald Boulevard, past the penitentiary museum and old Prison for Women on my left. Then I looked further up the street and thought, "Where is John Orr Tower?"
About 750 metres ahead of me there should have been a sixteen-storey apartment building, but there was absolutely no sign of it. I continued walking, keeping my eye fixed on where the building should have been. I reached the next intersection, by this time only about 300 metres from the location. Nothing. I marveled at the fact that someone driving past who didn't know the city would never even guess that there was a high-rise so close by. I crossed at the lights and kept walking north. Only when I was almost directly across the road, no more than 100 metres away, could I make out, through the gray haze, the flat white edges and jutting-out balconies of the building.
When I'd walked a little further north, I stopped and looked back across the road. Once again, it was as if the tower had never existed; I'd had only a glimpse of it, and even that was misty and obscure.
For me, that experience taught me (or reminded me of) some things about life and faith. As the Celtic prayer put it, sometimes "the dark happenings of my lot hide the shining of Your face from me." Sometimes God seems far away or even absent, and it can be very tempting to assume that means He is not there ... or even that He never was. Just as when a human relationship breaks down, we may wonder, "Was I delusional? Was I wrong in thinking that was something strong and lasting?" we can have similar thoughts about God, wondering if He ever really cared or was ever really involved in our lives.
The lost sixteen-storey building reminds me to trust that Someone is present even if there is no visible sign. It reminds me to hope for something beyond what I'm able to see at the present moment. It reminds me to have patience: that circumstances may change, that whatever's blocking the view may disappear -- or that time itself will be transformative.
It reminds me to keep walking, waiting, and watching.