Today, I felt a shade of doubt.
Then the sky opened up and I was certain that, yes, I probably should continue to think about this, spend time on this.
I don’t think I really have a choice.
This is not the sort of curiosity that one puts on the shelf. “Hmmm, am I witnessing some supranational phenomena that maybe ancient humans saw and felt and understood as God? I dunno. I guess I’m gonna go take a nap.”
I’ve been studying the clouds for 11 years. I lost my mind trying to prove God on the Internet with cloud pictures in 2010, though there was a lot of other stuff going on that year, too. I lost legal custody of my children in part because of my wacky ideas and experiences about clouds and strangers and angels and things like that.
I’m definitely not crazy now. For real. There is something strange with the clouds.
I’m an artist and if I saw clouds painted like some of the clouds I observe, it would be easy to see that they look all wrong – not like clouds at all. They look like pictures and symbols and parts of words.
I reminded myself, again, that I am not trying to prove God with pictures of clouds.
I am observing and documenting cloudforms that I find interestingly reminiscent of various other forms – symbols, animals, trees or atomic mushroom clouds.
This is an observational and contemplative practice. I have to acknowledge, for the sake of noting researcher bias and the potential impact on perception and meaning-making, that when I see some of these things in the sky, it is kind of hard not to believe that the clouds are – at times – manifesting the shapes of the Holy Spirit, or some immanent presence such as that.
I don’t hold to a Christian interpretation, or any specific interpretation at all. I might use the language of Holy Spirit or God, but – really – I should come up with other words, because those words (among many, many other words) mean very different things to people.
Even in the absence of numinous interpretation, it’s the most beautiful and wondrous thing I’ve ever seen. As I write this I notice a rising in my mind, a retort of sorts, reminding me of the miracle of leaves, and of spiderwebs, and of basically everything that has come into life over the past 4.5 billion years. It’s like nothing is more beautiful than anything else, somehow, because it is all connected and even piles of mud and rotting carcasses are a small facet of this infinitely and gloriously expansive entity we are a part of.
I can remember when the world was full of separate things, back when nothing meant much but living because you had to and eventual death – a clean drop of a sharp cliff at the edge of space, the age of the universe or how anything was connected to anything else was impossible to imagine.
There is something in me that is simply stunned by anciently sacred all life is, and concurrent with that stunned feeling is the sensation of wanting to cry, a stifled desire to cry, tho’ I’ve cried quite a bit.
I wept on my porch for the oceans in 2010, felt the floor of the sea (the Gulf of Mexico in particular) violated by drills, the waters that gave life to all becoming toxic, billions helplessly swimming and dying, dying, dying…because of some dumb stuff that humans have decided they like to buy and own and then throw away, some convenience to our modern lifestyles, our ever-so-brief world.
I am angry. Outraged, actually. Outraged like the kid I was when I first began to realize how utterly disgusting it was that sea turtles were dying so people in Omaha can eat seafood, so we could drink our six packs, so we can drive our cars.
I literally makes me feel sick.
I can hear an echo of adult voices in my head. “I know. It’s so sad. What are you going to do about it…?”
“Want to go to the movies?”
So, I just took about who-knows-how-many-pictures of mind-blowing heart wrenching seriously intense clouds. Stood calmly, watched. Took pictures for about hour, then another hour. The sunset hours.
I can totally understand how I lost my mind over this stuff in 2010.
I don’t lose my mind over anything anymore.
I can stand with one foot in the calm and rational while I pan up to see what appears to be a giant ritual skull mask, or skeletal cat face, and I can drop the camera – just for a moment – and look right at the eye-shapes and feel how small I am and say, out loud: “I see you.”
Nothing that is happening in the sky scares me, save for the belief that in some act of divine desperation, all the ancient forces of the earth and waters and sky that have witnessed and absorbed all life and death for – like I said, 4.5 BILLION years – mustered all their molecules together to shape a warning of what we stand to lose if we humans do not immediately cease and desist with the destruction of sacred creation and the splitting of atoms and the proliferation of nuclear weapons, messing around with DNA like we are some kind of genius God when – obviously – we are total idiots because we have destroyed our habitat in like 300 years and have actually managed to erase other living creatures from existence like they didn’t matter at all.
At this point, we deserve whatever scorching mutated soulless and hungry hell of a future we will get.
Oh, don’t worry, I’m not talking about Hell-Hell. I’m talking about Earth, only we won’t get what we deserve – our children’s children will.
*Note momentary loss of scientific objectivity. *