A Head Full Of Clouds
Wonder. I love to wonder. I have my head almost literally in the clouds right now. I am sitting on the edge of the dock. The once bright green water of the Belizean shores are now blackening as the suns sets over the island in the purple mist. The sky is open like the water straight out before me. The endless line of 3D characters float slowly by. Like the balloons of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade, the clouds lazily make their way toward the sun. Like they’re the little engines that could or a train of friends, dancing along the horizon like the bears of the Grateful Dead. Traveling carefree in harmony toward an endless forever.
Over to the left the sky is darker but calm like a mother. She has something to say. She is a blanket of peace that cares for everything below. She is the goddess in the night and stretches her arms out to the world. Her ship is the massive cloud that pillows like the helm of the sky. Its fluffy frame in one moment looks like her throne. In the next it forms her charge into the night, following the children of the day and ushering them onward. “The Sea must sleep my children” she whispers as the clouds she brings are heavy and grey. But these aren’t rain clouds. These clouds dot the night sky with peace. The deep void behind them sparkles like a reflection of the endless water it mirrors.
But wait she isn’t finished! Her grand finale is the lioness, the dame, and the elephant and they aren’t leaving without a show of grace and power. She lets you see what she wants. The giant on the shore is now a petal in a birds mouth.
When I stop to look out and see the wonder of the world I am never disappointed. I ask myself why I have to go on vacation in order to force myself into this practice. There is a lot of majesty around me and all it takes is some looking.
As I laid there watching the greatest show on earth. The remaining clouds slowly pushed the soft azure away like a curtain and opened up the night sky waiting behind it. I can still catch a small piece of the day to my right but the breadth of the sky is now overwhelmed by stars. I get to watch the day slowly turning into night.
Mother nature is only warming up. She hasn’t even begun to show me what she really wants me to see. She brings waves of clouds, monolithic and artful up to me as if the sky was a runway and I was its judge. All the while reminding me subtly of her presence below me in the water. The dancing turtles now moving closer and forming to dogs. A story line behind every metamorphosis and just when you thought it was over a new set of magic appears. I thought the dogs would meet each other but changed course and became something entirely different. That’s the thing with clouds, they never do what you want them to.
As the endless array of characters continues its prance. The deep void of space sparkles behind it. A wide open night sky full of stars and planets. The waxing crescent peeking up behind the island to the West sharing its pale light. Jupiter shines in all its glory to the South with its hues of orange and red.
The longer I sit I am able to see the rotation of the earth and placement of the stars. I am once again reminded of the wonder. I wonder how the ancients were able to decode the night sky with such accuracy. Galileo, Copernicus and Socrates predictions of the universe remain constant millennia and centuries before the Hubble Telescope, NASA or the Voyager missions.
For her encore the goddess of the night rolls up her sleeves and sends me on my way. A scorching comet across the sky. It went on for what seemed forever. Like I could reach out and catch it in my fist. The instantaneous anticipation of it burning out only increased the sense of amazement as it continued its path across the sky for a split second longer. I could barely contain myself. I am overwhelmed to a degree that I’ve felt only a handful of times. The sheer power of the universe I’m observing is only an atom-like representation of what she is capable of.
So what does all of this dreamlike imagery mean? Well to put it into the context of my life and what I think about most days is to look at it the way my children see the world. My girls are enamored with the things they’ve never seen before. Something big and colorful will evoke loud cheers and statements of awe because that is what they don’t see often. Just like them I don’t get to see shooting stars burn out across the atmosphere over the Caribbean waters. But whether it be that giant stuffed unicorn at the toy store or a holiday parade or the familiarity of their favorite cartoon character etched in bold paint on the side of a building. Clare and Sarah don’t hold back. They want to share what they see with the world. “Look at that!” they exclaim when we drive passed the big blue bear in downtown Denver. So in honor of their desire to share wonder with others, that is my goal today.
Overtime the sense of wonder changes and we become enamored with age appropriate things. But so much of that is always looking in. I get so consumed with the world in front of me that I forget to look out at the universe outside the door. Clearly it helps to practice when on an island vacation in Central America. But I have been on plenty of get aways where I looked in the whole time. Constantly thinking about the food I wanted to eat, the things I wanted to buy, the pictures I wanted to take.
What I found in the power of the universe was the ability to look in to what really matters. I was connected to all of it. The stars, the clouds, the sea, the black empty space. I realized I wasn’t looking out into space but I was in space looking deeper into the expanding universe. We are floating through the galaxy at phenomenal rates… 515,000 mph to be more specific. This is a snails pace compared to the speed of light. We are 93,000 million miles away from the Sun and the Sun will burn out in another 2 billion years.
As much as we are part of everything around us. We are also so incredibly small and insignificant. Yet what we do and say matters, who we are as individuals means something to the people around us and in our lives. So we can’t have our head in the clouds all the time but we need to poke them up there enough so it reminds us of our place among the stars.
”Men go abroad to wonder at the heights of mountains, at the huge waves of the sea, at the long courses of the rivers, at the vast compass of the ocean, at the circular motions of the stars, and they pass by themselves without wondering”
– Saint Augustine
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