Friday, July 13, 2007

Cloud watching

Last night after running I was walking around my favorite tree and saw the most amazing clouds. They caught me off guard because they were so low and at first glance looked like they might be smoke from a fire. It looked like a cotton candy mountain ridge, but really they were just a particularly fine set of Cumulonimbus clouds. (similar to picture but much better)

I realized that I can't remember the last time I watched the clouds or played that game where you see what shapes you find in them. Which always reminds me of a cloud version of a Rorschach Ink blot test. So I took a walk down memory lane.

I remember my days as a life guard at a bible camp (all through college). I would spend hours laying on the dock, beach, or in the lake (when no one was swimming of course) just watching clouds. My favorite thing in the world from about age 5 has been to back float in the water and watch clouds. It is still and meditative and restful and I haven't done it in quite a while.

This morning I walked to work past all the 7 a.m. runners through the park and I looked at the clouds again. And I realized clouds not only make me happy but they also reminded me of how huge this world is. I've always found things that transcend me soothing. It's similar to the feeling I get when I read Annie Dillard's "In the Time of Being". I realize that I am barely a grain of sand, not even a blip in the history of time and space. Perhaps this fact scares some people, but I find it soothing. Everything beyond me: mountains, clouds, oceans, the billions and billions of people on this earth...remind me of God as transcendent. And it all helps me from getting too overly concerned with myself.

I define Salvation as "divine spaciousness in tight places" (Barbara Brown Taylor) and sin/evil as selfishness (Scott Peck), or a person curved in upon themselves (Martin Luther). So in that context, clouds are almost a spiritual discipline or a devotional act for me. They keep me from selfishness and create a sense of spaciousness and openness in my mind and heart. Thanks be to God. :)

Done any cloud watching lately? I highly recommend it.


Anonymous said...

I ran to the grocery store last night around 9 - there was still a touch of light out. When I looked up and to the east, there was a HUGE puffy cloud behind a building that was fascinating to me - the way the glimmer of light from the day still made it possible to see the cloud, but the darkness was enveloping it at the same time. Strangest thing. I wished I had a camera, but then realized it probably wouldn't have done it justice, anyway.


just me said...

Maybe we saw the same cloud?

M said...

My partner did some cloud watching *and* picture taking on her way down here. I chided her for taking pictures while driving (tsk tsk) but thought it was really awesome.

Those ways of defining sin are so wonderful and hit me so hard. Thank you for exposing me to that.