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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Winter (the season) (08/13/09)

TITLE: Faith in the Fog
By Margaret Villanueva


The beginning of this winter evening gave me no indication of what tonight would bring. I’ve lived in Bakersfield practically all my life, and I know about its fog. We laugh about it and say that we get white Christmases too—just without the snow. The fog here is nothing to laugh about, though. It’s dangerous, especially at night. We have a special kind of fog called Tule fog. It’s thick and cold, and it makes you feel as if you are totally alone. Visibility can be as low as 10 feet, and so you can barely see the headlights heading toward you. Familiar landmarks totally disappear, and you are thrust into the middle of your own personal cotton-swabbed nightmare. Bizarre things happen in the fog. A friend driving to work in the midst of the white shroud surrounding her became sure that someone was lying dead on the road—someone that she couldn’t see. Others have been led astray by the lack of familiar markers. Another woman was killed when she made what she thought was a left turn off a highway, only to find that she actually had turned into the fast lane of oncoming traffic. People who are not from here often cause collisions by driving too fast, driving with their brights on, or simply driving without the requisite understanding of how to survive in the fog. I am normally very careful, and I try to avoid the fog at all costs. But here I am, and I am scared.

If fog were predicted for tonight, I would not have gone out. Even though I’ve lived here my whole life, I’ve never felt comfortable driving in fog. I try always to wait until the next day. But tonight was different. My church was having its annual Christmas concert, and I was so excited about going that I chose to believe the forecast of a clear evening. I felt sure that I had plenty of time to get home before the fog hit. Although it can creep in early in the evening or stay all day without ever dissipating, the fog usually doesn't come until late at night. So I went to the concert, thoroughly enjoyed myself, visited with friends after, and was on my way home with plenty of time to spare. Or so I thought.

When I began the 30-minute drive home, there was no sign of fog. Therefore, I was totally unprepared when just a few blocks away from the church a fog bank enveloped me. Visibility went from several miles to a few feet in a matter of seconds. My lights did very little to help me see. However, I couldn’t turn on the brights—they would actually reflect the fog and make it impossible to see. I reduced my speed to the point where I was crawling and began to pray.

As I drove, the neighborhood’s Christmas lights glimmered eerily through the mist. I couldn’t tell where I was or what I was to do. My prayers for safety turned to prayers for direction. “I have no idea where I am, Lord. How can I know that I’m even going the right way? Can I please just depend on you?” Nothing changed—the fog was as bad as ever and my vision hadn’t improved—but I felt a sense of peace. I was going to put my faith in the One whose birth I had celebrated this evening.

It seemed that I drove forever: slowly, carefully, listening for others coming my way. Suddenly I felt an uncontrollable urge to pull to the side. I remembered my friend and wondered if I was experiencing the same thing. “Lord, should I pull over? Let me know if this is nothing more than fear, or if this is your will.” The same sense of urgency persisted. I shrugged my shoulders and pulled over.

I hadn’t heard the car approaching. I hadn’t seen the headlights. I hadn’t a clue that there was someone on the other side of the road. But there was, and the car was out of control. It careened from its own lane to my lane and back again, its owner either drunk or desperately out of control. If I hadn’t pulled over….

As I continued the drive home, I gave thanks. The old carol rang in my head—silent night, holy night. On this most silent of nights, God’s mercy shone in my heart—even through the Tule fog.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Nancy Tilson08/20/09
Wow! I was with you in the car...and didn't want to be!
I've been in that kind of fog in other places and remember the feelings you expressed.
What a well written piece and a wonderful reminder of God's provision as we trust Him.
Jackie Wilson08/20/09
Really good story. Felt very real, as if told to me by a friend.
Deborah Ann Belka08/21/09
The, "uncontrollable urge," plot in your story, is right on target. His urges are the ones we need to pay attention to. Great story, kept me interested until the end.
Deborah Caruso08/23/09
A good illustration to trust in God when things aren't clear to us. Very good!