The Instability of Clouds

The sunsets have been fiery and full of impossible colors that whirl through the western sky and dance off over the horizon. January has not been a good month-but the sunsets have been promising pink and purple, blue and lavender, gold and orange.

Control is a cruel and unhappy taskmaster. It cannot be a mistress, for at times a mistress gently strokes your cheek and tells you all is well. The need for control never does that. It cracks a whip in the dark hours of single-digit a.m.’s and whispers a raking, crackled reminder in your ear when you’re in the midst of living. It demands attention and as Willy Loman said, “attention must be paid.”

You work at it, seeming to “let it go” and singing the new and now famous Disney song in your head if you’ve been introduced to it. In a way, it brings peace because you ask the Still Small Voice to intervene and He does as long as you allow Him. But your mind always creeps back there, like a treasure you’ve locked away and only you have the key so that every once in a while, you peek in to see that the treasure is still there; that He is still holding it for you.

The illusion, however, is that it is a treasure at all. Control is the illusion. We simply set the wheels in motion of our days, our actions, our work, our play and we assume we know how it will go. Our society pays people hundreds of thousands and even millions of dollars to predict how it will go. Will there be enough? Do we have the edge? Can we take advantage now? All questions that vanish like smoke through the sky.

Retreat is not surrender. Counting costs is not an attribute. We cannot know the cost of these things if we count them in currencies, whether those currencies are money or material goods or emotions or feelings. The thin thread of faith, deceptively thin and strong, cable-steel strong, is the only reality. Once all the material is accepted for what it is, an illusion that gives us the cold comfort that we are in control, all that’s left is the understanding that we are wonderfully, perfectly made.

The instability of clouds is a wondrous thing. At given points in time, the sky changes and creates spiraling, vaporous, magic pictures of abstract clarity. They are there one minute and gone the next. In our 21st century world, the sky is even punctuated by jet planes and helicopters, rockets and satellites. Yet the more we see those things, the more they merely highlight the spectacular expanse of a sky painted with impossible dreams of color and imagination and we look up again only to be attracted to the thing that was there all the time.