These are no doubt difficult times we’re living in. The economy is in a tailspin. Our country seems to have never been as divided as it is today. Cities around the world are burning, both figuratively and in reality, with discontent. It seems that everything is out of control and there is precious little that we, as individuals, can do about it.
In times like these it is good to take inventory of oneself. A famous prayer extols the wisdom of doing what you can to affect change, accepting what you can’t change, and knowing the difference between the two. Aside from doing our best to prepare against these tenuous times, I have come to find a certain peace in watching the sky. There are cumulus clouds that frame the sun on a hot summer afternoon and a halo around the moon at night (thanks to cirrostratus clouds). Rain falls and waters the ground; wind blows seeds from trees to an adjacent spot nearby where another tree will grow. Lightning helps to enrich the soil with nitrogen, but also triggers forest fires. A gentle shower may strafe the shoreline today while a hurricane could blast onshore tomorrow. All of this has gone on forever, day in and day out. During good times and during bad times, regardless of the economic or geopolitical realities of the era, weather never ceases. It is as constant as the sunrise. Life goes on and our woes are not consequential enough to override the natural course of the sky.
The entire country could collapse, with a panic of epic proportion, but altocumulus clouds would again dot the sky on the following day. After the horrors of 9-11 and the dust cloud of dreadful reality that covered lower Manhattan, even when we could not believe our eyes- the sun still rose on Wednesday the 12th with puffy clouds that afternoon, as if nothing had changed.
Reality is not an absolute to most people. Our fantasies often become our own personal reality. When the tranquility of everyday life is threatened by external events, our view of what is real can get fuzzy. It is then that we must find a benchmark, the solid rock against which everything else is measured. Otherwise, how do you know if you have strayed from reality?
That never changing benchmark is weather above. It obviously changes from day to day, as it always has. But the daily procession of the sun across the sky, the diurnal temperature fluctuations and the fabulous show that nature puts on in the sky do not alter their character because of us- or anything. Yes, the climate does slowly change everywhere over long periods of time. But daily weather is ongoing, always- as long as this gaseous canopy of tempestuous potential is draped overhead. It is predictable to a point, but also deceitful in its variability. Weather is beautiful and frightening. Weather is perfectly appointed and disastrously excessive. Most of Texas is currently enduring excessive drought, while only a few months ago much of the northern plains was enduring excessive flooding.
No matter what may happen with people who inhabit the land, seasons will come and go. There is a hopeful message in the circuit of weather and it is this: Summer turns to autumn, which turns to winter and death. But just as certainly as tomorrow will dawn, winter will turn to spring and life will be born again. This reassurance, which many people don’t understand, comes to us from watching the sky. Certainly, good things never seem to develop fast enough and the pain of famine never seems to leave as soon as we would like. But be encouraged that better days lie ahead. Somewhere out there, prosperity will once again smile on our land after the punishment of our foolishness is spent. How do I know this? The sky told me. And it has never lied.