Monday, August 4, 2008

Cloudy with a Chance of Making Sense

"By day the LORD went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way …” Exodus 13:21a

“While Aaron was speaking to the whole Israelite community, they looked toward the desert, and there was the glory of the LORD appearing in the cloud.” ~Exodus 16:10

“The LORD said to Moses, ‘I am going to come to you in a dense cloud, so that the people will hear me speaking with you and will always put their trust in you.’” ~Exodus 19:9

“At that time men will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory.” ~Mark 13:26

I have become fascinated with clouds lately. I think the obsession developed as I was photographing sunrises and sunsets on our June vacation. More recently, too, I have driven to work several times with the arrival of dawn, each time experiencing an overwhelming feeling of privilege, as if I had been invited to some incredible high-altitude show put on just for me.

Mostly I notice the striking beauty within these condensed bundles of water vapor. Especially with the early morning light, they can be stricken with hues of pink, orange, and violet. When they cover the sun, the radiance that spills from behind is dazzling. As a storm develops and they literally roll across the sky, it is obvious the power contained within can be, dare I say, “electric.” Some days, whimsical cotton puffs drift lazily through the atmosphere as if propelled by the contented exhale of the Almighty himself.

How could I have taken them for granted?

I know it’s not the end of the world. I could ignore clouds for the rest of my life and never really know the difference. But, having caught a taste of their beauty, I now look for them, many times regretting that I’ve forgotten my camera.

They are kind of like snowflakes, or fingerprints; no two are ever exactly the same.

Children know this. Don’t you remember years ago relaxing in the grass and watching the scenes unfold above you?

Look! There’s a turtle.

Ooh! Santa Claus!

Winnie the Pooh.

A house with a chimney.


An underwear-clad hippopotamus standing atop the Empire State Building holding a megaphone in his hand.

The possibilities were endless. They still are, though I much more rarely see figures in the clouds. Oh, occasionally I will (ok, usually when my kids are with me) – you know, dogs, cats, or umbrella-toting squirrels. However, more-so now, I see the simple beauty of color, the unique variations of shape, the brilliant dance of light.

Simply put, I have begun to look forward to what the clouds have in store for me each day.

Frankly, after weeks of the intense Texas heat (as I write, it is 105 degrees outside), I seem to have forgotten why, when people are describing a glorious day they smile broadly and declare, “There’s not a cloud in the sky!” as if that’s supposed to be a good thing.

What a waste of good sky! :-)

No, in addition to their aesthetic appearance, clouds can also provide (if they are in the right place at the right time) a respite from the intense heat of the sun. Who of us hasn’t at some time commented, being surprised by a sudden broad shadow from above, “The temperature dropped ten degrees just then!” And everyone knows that clouds always precede the rain. That’s why, after years of drought and famine, when God finally told Elijah to expect relief, the prophet sent his servant (seven times, in fact) in search of just one measly cloud that would signal its coming (1 Kings 18).

And finally, but definitely not least importantly, my clouded mind has begun to muse on the many Biblical references to God manifesting Himself in a cloud, or as a cloud, or with a cloud. I have long thought of God when I see a rainbow – not just because of the Noahic covenant described in Genesis, but because of this verse:

“Like the appearance of a rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day, so was the radiance around him. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD. When I saw it, I fell facedown…” ~Ezekiel 1:28

Now I am adding clouds to my personal list of triggers that point to the Almighty.

And I guess I can never have enough of those.

Here’s hoping your days are at least partly cloudy.


  1. That's so beautiful! Now I feely even more disgusted that my day provoked rantings and not philosophical raving about the majesty of grass. Speaking of grass, I just remembered I left my water in my front yard running. It's been on just one tree for about an hour now! Yikes!

  2. What an anointed post! My boys love clouds, we have endless pictures of clouds. They speak of mystery and I love how you shared memories of our youth and used your wonderful pictures. I look forward to reading more...


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