Is My Head in the Clouds? (And Notes on Beauty)

Is my head in the clouds?  Well, I don’t know, but my camera sure has been pointing at them a lot lately.  There is something about clouds – and the rest of the sky — that absolutely fascinates me.  I always look up when I am outside, and my children know that if there is an unusual sunset going down to come and get me immediately.  (You will see this later, I promise.)
This morning, I could hear my daughter Lydia rustling around the kitchen getting ready for school.  Early this morning.  As in, before six, which I do not consider to be a daytime hour.  In my foggy wee hours brain, I remembered that she had baked a large loaf of braided artisan bread for a speech on creativity in her Acting class.  I figured she might have quite a juggle getting it to school along with her weighty backpack, full of paper knowledge.  So I got up, crept quietly while the house slept.  Yes, she would like a ride to school, thank you very much!  We left at twenty ’til seven.  Still the wee hours for me.

I noticed the wakening sky as we drove to the east.

There is a payoff to rising at dawn, before the sun, is there not?

On the way home, I stopped several times to take pictures with my iPod camera.  First, in the high school parking lot, not truly stopping, but holding my camera out the window at a slow crawl…

You do not see the pink edge at the top of the cloud, do you?
I see better with my eye than the camera does.
It is a pity.  It is there.  You shall see.


I must stop again where I can actually get out of the car!
Why waste the morning glory?
Around the corner and down the street a bit,   
just a hint of the rosy pink and gold peeking 
from behind the tree silhouettes.

And straight up, no warm sun nuances here, 
just thin white marbled clouds on blue.
 Driving west, glancing up into my rear mirror, 
I see a golden ball shimmering behind me.
 I cannot resist.  I pull over at Red Bug Lake Park. 
I do not think I have ever seen the sun 
wedged between the horizon and a cloud bank.
This is a matter of perspective, perception.  Of course.
The sun is far away, far beyond, far up and out, 
never under, never confined, even if it is out of view.

The sunrise & cloud duet’s glory is obscured (or is it framed?)
by earthly protrusions: fence, electric lights, traffic.
We live in the earthly daily even while dreaming of the heavenly eternal.

 I am in the car again, preparing to pull out of the park.
I look up again.
The sun has shifted: it is sliding up behind the clouds.
I stop again, get out, walk forward.
What details the camera cannot perceive, 
I imprint on my own brain through observant eyes.
(A miracle, if you think about what they can do.)

How long may I stay here?
It is time to go homeward now, but there will be more.
The sky is bigger than me.
The clouds, the sun, will follow me home.
I can see them from anywhere.

Another stop, this one in my neighborhood…
New angle, new shift of light, new bank of white and gray.
What shapes do I see in these clouds, with sun rays sprouting out the top?

This from my own front yard, 
framed by a roof and a twin tree thrust cloudward.


This then, is what my little front yard friends see, 
who look like clouds themselves, perched atop a birdbath;
this is what they see every morning, 
facing east toward the sunrise, while I am still in bed?
They expect clouds, rain clouds, with their umbrella.
The sun, too, as it could just as easily be a parasol.
Clouds and sun.  Sky every day, rain or shine.

And what if they faced west?
Would they see the sunset if they could turn their stone faces around?
Naomi took these pictures.  She has human eyes to see, as I do.

Oh yes, the glory of the evening as well. 


Sky beauty is restorative, redemptive…
A friend who traveled west for cancer treatment notes with gratitude:
“We saw a partial rainbow on way back to Whidbey Island, 
not to mention that even though it rained
during our 45 minute wait for the ferry, 
the sky turned into a rainbow sherbet sunset over the bay.”

“Rainbow sherbet sunset over the bay.”  I like that imagery.  
Beauty I can see in my mind because the words travel the miles.

So is my head in the clouds?

I am more a poet than a logician.
I crave beauty even if I cannot keep my house clean.

My wise counselor asks,
“Are you taking time to read, to write?  That is important for you.”
He and his wife home schooled a large family.
He knows the “much” of what I live, still teaching five each day, 
still caring for all ten, no matter where they are, living at home or not.
He understands how I need the deep to keep me going.
The deep to lift me up.


I am reading.
Namely, Breath for the Bones by Luci Shaw, a prose book by a poet, 
subtitled Art, Imagination, and Spirit: Reflections on Creativity and Faith.

And I am writing.
Namely, reflections on my reading, 
jotted down in a leather journal my daughters brought home from Italy, 
where they breathed in beauty and art.  (I am jealous. Someday.)
And on a keyboard, for you.



Note bene from Luci Shaw:

“To have a functioning cosmos would have seemed enough.  
Beauty is an added bounty, and because the benefactor is divine,
we ignore or disdain beauty at our peril, no matter where it is found.”

“The role of the artist is to call attention.”
“There is another calling for the artist, 
and that is one of linking earth to heaven, 
pointing the human to the divine, finding the connections.”

“The Benedictines hold that beauty is ‘truth shining into being,’ 
a principle adopted by John Keats 
in his famous ‘beauty is truth, truth beauty.’
In this sense, beauty is redemptive.
It can motivate us to turn a corner, to pursue a new objective.
It awakens us because it is often so surprising.”

“We all – artists, writers, visionaries – 
find ways to live and explore metaphor in our lives.”

“The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me…
to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve…
beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.”
Isaiah 61:1-3

With love and hope,
Virginia Knowles


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About virginiaknowles

I am a mother and grandmother of a huge family, and I still home school my youngest daughter. I write to stay sane. My WordPress blog is a combination of my Blogspot blogs, and may not be continually updated.
This entry was posted in Art~Beauty~Creativity, Bible~Theology, Books and Authors, Breath for the Bones, God's Good Creation, Grace and Wonder, Photographs. Bookmark the permalink.

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