Look up, the sky is not falling
March 19, 2008
It is true that I would much rather count my blessings than my fuel oil bill. In fact, I'd rather count the blades of grass in my so-called lawn than my fuel oil bill so maybe my lead here sounds a bit too glib.
It's true, though. Despite all the hardships there are many blessings, gifts that I am given—tangible or otherwise—by people I know, love and admire. Others still from total strangers who have let me know things that are important in many ways.
Sometimes, though, when things are so tough it's hard to focus on the simple things that are so outstandingly good. Things that I take for granted and/or don't stop to marvel at as often as I should.
So this week, I'm going to remind myself how absolutely lucky I am. How great I really have it (fuel oil and furnace bill aside) and revel in gratitude.
I am often reminded of a piece I read in the Yoga Journal years ago. It appeared in the Sept./Oct. 1998 issue (hard to believe it was ten years ago), but resonates with me through the years as a descriptive reminder to appreciate what I do have every single day.
It was written by Ken Nerbum, an excerpt from a book called 'Small Graces.'
It's called 'The Gift of Clouds.'
Here it is:
"Years ago I used to drive a cab for a living. There was a blind woman I used to pick up at one of the local universities. She was taciturn, proper, almost British in her sense of propriety and reserve. And though she seldom talked, we gradually became friends.
"One day I asked her what one thing she would wish to see if, for only one minute, she could have the gift of sight.
"She smiled and thought a moment. Then she said 'Clouds.'
"The answer surprised me. Of all the choices in the wide breadth of the world, she had chosen one that would never have crossed my mind.
"'Why clouds?' I asked.
"'Because I can't imagine them,' she said. 'People have tried to explain them to me. They tell me they are like cotton. They tell me they look like fog feels. They spray whipped cream in my hand. They move my fingers over paintings of skies and let me feel the shapes of clouds painted on canvas. But I am still no closer to understanding. Yes, it would be clouds.'
"I looked out the window of the cab. The clouds were moving, stately and triumphant, in majestic procession across the sky. Behind me the blind woman sat, prim and self-contained, with her cane propped next to her and her hands folded on her lap.
"As I drove along I pondered her words. I, who saw clearly, spent each day wishing for some distant object—a place, a person, some prize of life I hoped to win. But one who valued sight the most—one to whom it was denied—knew that the greatest gift her eyesight could bestow was before me, unnoticed and unhallowed, at that very moment.
"'Clouds,' I thought. Of course. What else in this great universe so eludes description, so fills the spirit with wonder? What else floats gossamer and ethereal above our lives, never touching down but always present with us, a reminder of the majesty of an unseen God?
"As a child we are alive to their magic. We lie on our backs on summer hillsides, make up stories, find giants and dragons in their forms. They are God's sketchbook, the measure of our capacity to dream.
"But as we grow, they fall victim to numbing familiarity. Their poetry and majesty, though still alive in our hearts, is easily overlooked, easily ignored.
"'Now let me ask you,' she was saying. 'What is a cloud like?'
"I returned from my reverie. The traffic was churning angrily on the rush-hour streets. Far above, the clouds were moving slowly, like horses, like carriages, like elephants holding each other's tails.
"'They're like God's dreams,' I said.
"'Thank you,' she responded.
"She did not speak again. But her still, small smile filled the cab with the eloquence of peace."
I'm gonna spend some time today looking up at the sky.
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