The fog is a haunting force in San Francisco. Sometimes it is so thick you can’t see two feet ahead of you and yet, it remains profoundly beautiful. The mysterious majesty of the fog truly comes from watching it on the outside from the Golden Gate Bridge. Coming into the City from Marin, you can see it engulfing whatever vehicle you are in as you as enter the City. The fog wraps you in such a way that it leaves you both marveling at its presence and frightened by what you can not see. Viewing the fog from a distance is enchanting, as well, as you can see it weave its away through the City like the Basilisk.
Today, I had a panic attack and I felt truly trapped. What propelled me into this panic attack was missing the shuttle for work, then accidentally taking the wrong one, getting stuck in traffic, and ultimately being late to meet one of my interns. I work with young adults with development disabilities and I was worried, “if I don’t get there when she needs me, she might find herself struggling.” Anxious thoughts flooded my mind.
I am going to be late. She’ll need me. We’re not moving. I’m trapped. I feel claustrophobic. I am late. I am stuck. I will get fired. I can’t get to her. What if something bad happens. Oh. No. I can’t breathe. I am trapped. I need air. I- I- I have no control over this situation. Breathe. Breathe, Samantha. Breathe. How do I see God in this? God, speak through me in this moment. I feel worried. I feel trapped. I feel anxious. I can’t breathe. God, I can’t control this moment, help me through it. Help me to see you in my anxiety. Help me. St. Ignatius of Loyola, you had anxiety, too, pray for me to see God in this. I need to see God in all things. Breathe. 1-2-3. I can breathe. I see the fog. Lord, help my intern. OK, I don’t have control here. You have control. Take this situation and do with it as you will. I trust in you. Thank you Jesus for calming the storm. OK. I can breathe now.
What brought me out of it was the sight of the fog. As haunting as the fog can be, at times when I feel anxious or stressed, one glimpse of it can be oddly comforting. I think of the fog a lot like God. We marvel at Him. He is truly a mystery and yet, we do not understand His ways. His ways can truly be terrifying simply because we do not see everything He sees. Sometimes when we can not see God’s plan, we are just like the apostles in the boat with Jesus. It’s easy to panic and freak out in the midst of stress. That’s a very normal reaction. What is important to understand in times of panic is that God is still there. He is in the boat with us. With Him there is peace. In peace we can rest.
When we experience fear, anxiety, depression, or sadness, do not run away from those feelings. Simply just experience them. If we run away from these feelings, sometimes they escalate because what we are doing is trying to regain control. We will lose control. When we do, it is important to acknowledge what we are feeling. Be aware of your emotions and in the middle of them ask God, what are you trying to show or tell me through these emotions?
Finding God in all things can be difficult. It might mean that we have to pause, take a breath, and notice the world around us. What do we see? Where is God in this person, in this landscape, or in this emotion I am experiencing? God dwells everywhere among us. Just remember to breathe and look for Him.