Yesterday a thick fog framed our city. North, south, east, and west: in all directions a gentle, yet persistent frozen mist softened the day’s light. My maple trees shone with ice crystals; pine trees decked with diamonds wrapped around my back yard. Hoarfrost left behind by that soft haze made me wonder whether I live in a dream. Is this gentleness real? Or am I imagining this beauty? Who is behind this astounding gift so freely given?
Some of the indigenous people of this continent call the Creator of this wonder Kitchi-Manitou. This name can be variously translated, but the two words point to a mystery, a fundamental anima that is great beyond all telling. Many of these indigenous peoples assert that Kitchi-Manitou is everywhere. Yet there are places where this divine presence is concentrated: here and there God is so present that people seek out these particular places to experience vision in times of trial and guidance in periods of perplexity. Kitchi-Manitou is beyond manipulation, but still promises this mysterious divine presence at sacred sites.
On a day like yesterday, when I looked out over the trees poignant with white, I pondered how this mysterious mist serves as a parable of the mystery of God. On my midday run, I could clearly see the path at my feet, yet further down the path the fog accumulated to dampen sight. I knew that from a distance the place where I was and could clearly see would seem to be blanketed with the same thick mist that I only saw at the horizon. And then, I looked over at the trees and there, the mist left a trace of its presence. On trees’ twigs and evergreen’s needles the vapor deposited reminders of its presence. Here and there, evidence of that earthen cloud made a mark that invited me to focus my seeing, so that all of my being might be touched by the mystery of mist.
Of course, this hoarfrost lasted but for a time; rather like a summer fog. Only a moment is given for seeing this beauty that caresses the eyes; that stills the heart; that opens the ears. But still this pregnant moment etches itself in my mind’s eye so that I ever see that heaven touches earth and leaves traces of its sanctity even here, on the branches of my back yard.
Kitchi-Manitou has visited my neighbourhood, and so I walk in this place now holy, in wonder as creation’s beauty arrests our propensity for cynicism, our predilection for ego, and our placation with prejudice. The hoarfrost preaches a mighty sermon: look for the holy, live with the whole, and give some space for mist and mystery in the imagination.