I am fixated on the sky. The more I pay attention to it, the more it blows my mind.
I’ve lived a lot of my years in hollows-or hollers, as many people know them. I’ve been used to looking up at the sky between mountains and trees. It was the way it was and how it had always been. I didn’t realize how little of it we were seeing until a young lady from another state pointed it out two decades ago.
Shelly was serving a two-year term at the Mennonite Unit at Aflex, Ky. One day, she suddenly blurted out, “I can’t get over how small your sky is here!”
“What?!” we asked, very confused. Clearly the sky has always been the same size.
“I have to go to the Southside Mall parking lot for more sky,” she informed as if it made perfect sense. That was weird to me. I was sure they didn’t sell sky at the mall. She went on to explain. When she felt the mountains were closing in, she drove up on the hill to the mall, got out and took a big breath. Honestly, until that moment, I had never given the sky any thought as to whether it was large or small. Shelly was from Kansas. The sky in Kansas is nine to three on the clock. She held out her arms to show me. “But here…the sky is 11 to one.”
Holy Smokes! She was right! The amount of sky we saw every day was not nearly as big as other people’s sky. Geno’s Pizza! What an eye-opening moment!
When our family moved to Prestonsburg, we still lived in a hollow, but when we went out to certain places, the sky was ginormous! My beloved and I constantly said, “look at the sky!” trying to make sure everyone in the vehicle could see. Finally, one of our kids asked, “What is your deal with the sky?!” totally puzzled by our excitement. We explained the “Shelly principle”, that some people see more sky than others. They didn’t care. Sky was sky to them.
Lately, I’ve been obsessed with clouds. Do you ever pay attention to them? They are so fluffy and beautiful. They look like God uses a pipette to shape them, as a chef decorates with icing. It’s remarkable to me that God is so very big, yet takes the extra time to form clouds into shapes that are clearly NOT just clouds. I always take a good look at the sky on my way to and from work. (They’re really good ‘glances’. I still drive carefully!) Every day I am wowed by the beauty God pours out in the heavens. It’s breathtaking!
Sometimes I can’t help laughing out loud. Recently, I saw a cloud that looked just like a hippo! For real! I see stuff like that all the time! I stopped on the way home from Lexington a few months ago to take a picture of a cloud that was looked exactly like a shark. (It was for a shark lover.) The other day, clouds were shaped like a humongous older man throwing his head back and laughing. Clear as a bell! (If I told you it was King Triton from The Little Mermaid, you would probably think I had been smoking something.) Yesterday, the clouds on the way home were completely different, and yet familiar. I looked from mountain to mountain taking it all in and pondering what they looked like. They were fluffy and light, but clumped together. Finally, I had it! They looked just like my chicken and dumplings! (I make drop dumplings, so they’re light and fluffy balls instead of squares and they are all squeezed together in the pot!)
There are stories about clouds in the Bible, you know. Exodus 13 tells that the Lord led His people by a pillar of cloud during the day. (And that’s not the kind of ‘pillar’ you sleep on.) One very interesting Scripture that mentions a cloud is in 1 Kings 8. This was the day King Solomon had the ark of the covenant brought into the new temple. Verses 10 and 11 say: “…the priests could not perform their service in the temple because of the cloud, for the glory of the Lord filled His temple”. That gets me tickled each time I read it: the preachers couldn’t get their work done because the glory of the Lord was everywhere! The Bible verses that really keep me interested in cloud watching lately are Mark 13:25-27: “At that time people will see the Son of Man (Jesus) coming in the clouds with great power and glory. And He will send His angels and gather His elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of the heavens.”
Sometimes, when the sun is peeking through the clouds and the colors are so magnificent they hurt my eyes, I think, “Is this it?! Is He coming now?!”
‘Til then, I’m looking up and enjoying the scenery!
The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His Hands-Psalm 19:1.
Dawn Reed is a columnist for The Floyd County Times.