Fogs, Lighthouses, and Ragamuffins
There’s a song I love…best covered by Geoff Moore and The Distance…and it starts “I can see clearly now the rain is gone.” Well, I don’t know about you but sometimes I feel like my life reads more like a weather forecast! “Sunny and 70.” “Overcast with drizzle.” “Freezing rain, sleet and snow” (for those days when I’m just not sure WHAT I want to do….or be). “Fog…dense at times” also translated “patchy dense fog.”
The ‘patchy dense fog’ made an appearance last Friday night. Literally
As SOON as the time clock hit 5p I punched out and hit the road. After all, I had a ragaventure to go on with a few friends. Four of us who were on the October retreat surprised a friend 90 minutes away. She had the lead in her church holiday play and was challenging herself and stretching herself out of her comfort zone. So we did what ragafriends do….we supported her. And in this case it allowed us to enjoy each other’s company and see it – live and in person. The look on her face when she saw us after the show was priceless. We went from sunny during the day to patchy fog on the way down to dense fog….and I mean DENSE fog at times on the way back. We were very thankful for headlights of any variety – especially when they were coming at us because it told us where an upcoming curve might be, and when they were ahead of us because we could just follow the tail lights…as long as we could keep them in sight. And then there were the turns….with 20 feet visibility….next to a water source….on a country road….with no lights….and no moon….and fog that swallowed our headlight beams…to the point we turned on an access road instead of the highway. Our driver did a WONDERFUL job and while I don’t like fogaventures, if I have to be on one, I want to be in the car she’s driving. She’s got all the cool toys!
There was a time in my life when I would describe my emotional well being as ‘dense fog.’ A lot of things had happened in my life and I didn’t handle it well. At all. I would dare say it was even frozen fog – you know…the kind that puts a thin coating on hard surfaces and your feet slip a little bit….a skid here, a slip there….and you’re happy if you have something to grab to keep your balance before you end up flat on your back. That frozen fog had settled on my heart.
For me, at that point in time, I was just trying to hang on to WHATEVER I could. The only thing keeping me from falling flat on my back was a ‘nagging optimism’ – a quiet voice – telling me “it will be OK.” There was a lighthouse in the fog storm of my life.
Fast forward a couple decades. The forecast was the same as it probably was for you….”cloudy with a chance of rain.” “Sunny, light breeze, delightful.” “Partly sunny.” “Mostly cloudy.” “Patchy morning fog.”
We all have it. No matter what we try to ‘manufacture’ there will be days when we have fog. It might be scattered, it might be locally heavy, it might be patchy dense, and it might just be a “visibility zero but you still have to move” fog. Maybe we’re freaking out because we can’t see the next step in front of us and we’re just praying for headlights to come at us or taillights to lead us….anything…ANYONE….to light the path…even for just the next step. That’s where Ragamuffins come in!
When I worked at Kanakuk Kamp I was privileged to get to know, and over time develop a dear friendship with, a Christian recording artist named Billy Sprague. Billy was the first ragamuffin to help light my foggy path. Billy did a song at Kamp called “I am a Lighthouse” and a couple lines go:
“I am a lighthouse, for lost hearts out on the sea / I am a lighthouse, ‘cuz the Lord is living in me / And when it’s dark out, His love is gonna burn through the ni-i-i-ee-ight / I am a lighthouse, He is the light.” (Ever since that song I have ALWAYS loved lighthouses…and my dream is to go to the East Coast to see the lighthouses some day.)
WE can be that light in the fog for someone. I am just recently coming out of a fog again. This one was subtle but resulted in me losing my way on the road for a while. It’s really only been the last 13 months where the lighthouse started to shine brighter and help me get into the clearing. And guess one thing God used to help light the path. That’s right…RAGAMUFFINS! Ragamuffin friends who love me for WHO I am and not what I do. Ragamuffin friends who just want to be with me….just because….and who remind me of what I want to remind them: you ARE loved! Ragamuffin friends who meet at least once a month to keep in touch, encourage, challenge, hold accountable, dream, write, and go on roadtrips in the fog to encourage each other, or collaborate on ministry events….or just…..BE! Ragamuffin friends through whom God shines His light. And through those experiences of love, acceptance, and ‘it’s okay to not be okay’ my forecast has gone from ‘patchy dense fog’ to ‘overnight clearing giving way to sun in the morning.’
Be that lighthouse for someone. Shine a little light on their paths. And by all means, even in patchy dense fog, keep moving.