"Sight is the soul's perfect delight."
I know what you're thinking—where does an avowed agnostic get off claiming to offer a prayer?
But hey, I'm not doctrinaire. I never assume I have to be right. Aristotle wasn't right about everything. Einstein wasn't either. Newton spent the back half of his life as an alchemist, for pete's sake. The guy who invented the ultra-logical empiricist Sherlock Holmes—the ur-Spock—believed passionately in fairies. (No kidding.) So who am I? I pray. I am reverent. (I even go to church. I like church. They welcome agnostics—I always ask.)
But I digress.
I was coming home the other night when a fast-moving thunderhead passed by. Its passing revealed the setting sun, which lit up the receding mountain of clouds with brilliant yellow-orange light even as it painted the western horizon pink. I was looking at both sides of the sky sitting at a long stoplight at the crest of a gentle rise. I wish I could have stayed there longer. The cars behind me might have objected.
A few nights later it rained, and as I was walking the dog I came across the crest of a hill. It was late dusk, almost twilight. The trees and streets were wet and the air had that earthy smell of fresh rain, but the sky had cleared. The hill was so steep that the streetlight at the bottom of it was almost at my eye level. It spilled a pool of yellow light on the leaves of a tree, a sprinkle of yellow and green amidst the blue gloom. Far behind me, I heard a train horn from a distant crossing.
A few days after that, a cold front moved in, and the sky turned into a theater of the what must have been the most varied and dramatic clouds I've ever seen. Huge, hard-edged cumulus clouds; stormclouds heavy with rain; crepuscular rays from the sun. The wind moving everything around and rearranging the sets constantly. I drove around just looking at the skies. It was an atmospheric supergala. Driving home later, the western horizon was a band of roiled gold underneath a solid wall of dark purple.
This has just been the most beautiful, dramatic spring and summer I've ever experienced in Wisconsin. It hasn't been "beautiful" by the standards of people who just like hot weather, and who don't mind even if it doesn't rain. It's been relatively wet and relatively cold. But it's been visually just gorgeous.
Time and again this summer I've just been struck by the realization that we live in a beautiful world. And when the earth is beautiful, it's heaven.
And I'm grateful. I'm full of gratitude to be here, seeing, and for this lovely season.
"Open Mike," the editorial page of TOP—frequently off-topic—appears on Sundays, at least when yr. hmbl. proprietor is so moved.
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Featured Comments from:
Moose: "'If the only prayer you ever say in your whole life is "thank you," that would suffice.' —Meister Eckhart."
Luis C. Aribe: "Die Welt ist schön. (Pardon my German.)"
Mike replies: The title of a very famous photography book....
John Krumm: "Ah, you've experienced the pleasure of a colder, more blustery and varied summer, something we are very familiar with in Southeast Alaska (except this summer, for us, which was blissfully and unusually clear and warm, a trade perhaps between the North and South). One of the gifts of practicing photography is an intense appreciation of natural light and form, something I enjoy even without a camera, and your words describe it well."