Weight of a Cloud’s Shadow


Weight of a Cloud’s Shadow

“Who may go up the mountain of the LORD?  Who can stand in his holy place?” Psalm 24:3

I grew up on the far west side of Green Bay.  The city limits were only about one-half mile west of my house.  That was long enough ago that, at the time, there were more seats in Lambeau Field, home of the Green Bay Packers, than the posted population of the entire city.

I lived on a street that only went past one more home and then it ended rather unceremoniously at the edge of a series of dormant farm fields that had not felt a plow in at least a decade or more.  I spent endless summer hours roaming those fields as a youngster. 

I recall watching red-tailed hawks spiral so high on the July thermals that they were a mere speck.  Their wings were locked and silent; the hawk maybe punctuating the thrill of his climb with a piercing scream.  Any ring-necked pheasants that my footsteps jumped, however, rose in a cackling thunder-blur of wings, but then almost as quickly they locked those wings and glided another hundred yards or so until they landed again, likely hitting the ground running some more before deciding that whatever danger I posed was left far enough behind.  My favorites were the meadow larks who imitated the flight of the pheasant, but I knew and loved them for the piercing four-note calls that always filled the summer days that I roamed the field.

My favorite days for roaming the field were those endless blue-sky days when huge white clouds rode the quick prevailing upper winds like so many schooner ships at full sail.  There were a number of games to be played with clouds.  You could lie back in the tall grass and watch them pass by and look to recognize shapes; this pastime always revealed just how the clouds were not static, but constantly building and morphing.  You could close your eyes and still know when a cloud was passing overhead because you could feel the coolness of its shade as its shadow enveloped you.  Or, you could race them.  To race a cloud, you watched as its shadow came across the billowing grass toward you.  Then, as the very edge of that shadow was almost on top of you, you ran as fast as you could to see how far you could get until the cloud and its shadow caught you.  The answer - not far!

One amazing thing about clouds is even though they took up such a large piece of the sky’s expanse, when its shadow caught you, although you could feel the coolness as it blocked the direct sunlight for a brief time, you couldn’t feel anything pressing down on you.  Each enormous cloud, or at least the shadow of each passing cloud, was weightless. 

I have been working with my spiritual director on what holiness looks like in my life.  My fear is that I know to answer that question, I must surrender completely to God’s will.  Not just God’s will in my life, but God’s will in total.  I can feel myself on one side of a huge mountain crevasse looking at holiness on the other side – apparently unreachable.  But I know the Truth.  Holiness is reachable, if I really desire to reach it.  Still, I worry that surrender seems enormous, heavy and ponderous. 

On the days when I want to turn back from the edge of the crevasse I take courage from what a young girl once discovered.  She did not turn back into herself.  Instead, she stepped out into gap.       

But Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?”  And the angel said to her in reply, “The holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore, the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God.

He will overshadow you.  Wait - I know something about shadows.  I learned it from the clouds years ago.  They are weightless!

His Peace <><

Deacon Dan            

Photo by Dallas Reedy on Unsplash