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Jen Pollock Michel

( author + writer + speaker )

A Sense of Sky

I tie my boots and open the front door, my hat pulled low. The sun is just beginning to rise, the sky etched in reds and pinks. I take to the sidewalk, turn downhill towards the path that leads to the ravine. I find snow and ice. The water of the brook has slowed and muted, having lost its summer hurry and babble. Winter's air is cold and still. I am small under this illuminating expanse of sky. The sky is my fixed point: or is it? I look up, following the flight of the clouds. It is they who move, and I am the rooted one, as strong and imperious as the winter trees. Or am I?

The kids have asked me before. How is it that the world turns, spinning us upside down, the blood rushing to the head of an entire hemisphere, but we never fall? I'd like to know.

The sky hues the expanse of dawn and dusk, shrouds night and enthrones sun. Above it, there is only thinning atmosphere and far-flung galaxies. Beyond and below, there is mystery. We are infinitesimally small.

Winter makes it hard to find the sky. Hurried and cold, we pay the clouds our dimmest attention.

The sun rises and sets. Every day, there is a fixed point, a rooted certainty. Evening and morning. The cadence of creation. The Creator innovates in color and cloud, improvises on the sameness, wakes the sky. It is not tedium, but steadfast beauty.

How is it that I've come to despise the humdrum sameness of my life, my sky? Evening and morning, a lurching, losing battle against the crumbs and the noise. Life has become a fissured list of "have-tos" and "want-tos." The "have-tos" have mounted a violent and bloodied coup.

It's I that have chosen this divide. I have made my own prison of what's daily and routine. I pay the clouds my dim attention.

2012 is my search for sky.

At the dawn of this new year, I pray for hues and mystery, smallness and worship. Evening and morning, God in the daily probabilities of sky and socks.

I'm tieing up my boots, throwing open the door, and setting out for a sense of sky.

“The often heard lament, ‘I have so little time,’ gives the lie to the delusion that the daily is of little significance. Everyone has exactly the same amount of time, the same twenty-four hours . . .But most of us, most of the time, take for granted what is closest to us and is most universal. The daily round of sunrise and sunset, for example, that marks the coming and passing of each day, is no longer a symbol of human hopes, or of God’s majesty, but a grind, something we must grit our teeth to endure. Our busy schedules, and even urban architecture, which all too often deprives us of a sense of the sky, has diminished our capacity to marvel with the psalmist in the passage of time as an expression of God’s love for us and for all creation.”

-Kathleen Norris, The Quotidian Mysteries: Laundry, Liturgy, and Women's Work