I live on the foggy side of San Francisco. It’s cheaper here. (Cheaper being a relative term.) There’s more room for kids to play, more room for bikes and (sometimes) backyards. We’re urban on this side of the fog, but the coffee is less fancy. There are no hipster restaurants known only for making awesome toast. Here we have families: thriving immigrant communities and professionals all living together and shopping where the bright signs declare store names in Cantonese or Russian.
On the other side of town, people sigh contented that they live where the sun shines. That’s not necessarily true. All of San Francisco can be foggy from time to time. What’s true is that the fog starts where I live and snakes out. I’m still getting used to that reality. When I look up the weather online, when I listen to the forecast on the news, I plan for sunny days. I forget that in the scope of this seven-mile-wide city, we all see the sun through various levels of fog.
From where I stand, there is nothing you can say to convince me this is a sunny day. I see all cloud. I feel the wet on my skin. I bundle my children and head to the playground anyway. Don’t tell me it’s a warm day in . I might believe you but I’m not living it.
I was reading Psalm 68 the other day when I came to that line in . God rides in the heavens, it said. In the heavens, above the atmosphere, above that space beyond our reach, that space we exist beneath. God rises out of the fog and flies fast through the open space above it.
I’ve been thinking about that. You and your theology. Me and mine. You and your certainty. Me and my doubt. You and your flag dancing worship, loud and bold. Me and my quiet liturgy, all that repetition. I’d rather sit still in the candle lit sanctuary. You’d rather laugh and shout and spin.
It looks, by all appearances, like we are different, friend. It looks like you don’t understand me and I don’t understand you. Here I am bound by fog. I wrap my children in layers and still we walk boldly under the low hanging sky.
And you, in the bright burning sun have forgotten your hat and sunscreen. You are crisped and sore to the touch. You have been burnt.
At some point we step back and examine the sky. Some of us live under thick hot wind that shakes the clouds into walls. You watch from your porch for the twister and run for cover.
Some of you are bound by the snow that piles and piles and forms around your world until you cannot step out of the house. So cold. So bright. So threatening.
At some point, we all must stand at our doorways and look outside at each other with compassion. We all must recognize that we are broken by the sharp corners of this world, broken by an atmosphere that looms to cover us all. None of us has it perfect. None of us gets it entirely.
We’re all scanning the sky for the One who rides above the clouds. Those clouds we think determine everything we live. When really it is the One flying fast, the One unbound by our small visions of what’s true, who holds us.
Beyond the fog our God holds us: Our theology, our fear, our broken burnt up lives, our needy bits of heart. Our healing.
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