My newspaper column this week, inspired David Kanigan:
Question: “What is a cloud like?”
Answer: “They’re like God’s dreams,…”
A taxi cab driver asked one of his frequent passengers, who happened to be blind, what the one thing she wished she could see. Her answer was “Clouds”. He was surprised at her answer, so he asked her why—and she said: “Because I cannot imagine them.”
The driver whose name is Ken Nerburn is now an author and he wrote a book called “Small Graces: The Quiet Gifts of Everyday Life.” In his book is an essay called, ‘The Gift of Clouds’, and in that essay he attempted to describe clouds. In the end he concluded that they “are like God’s dreams,” and the woman was peacefully satisfied with that intangible but apt description.
He did describe clouds more concretely–not as a climatologist or scientist might—but as a poet, an artist with words. He said:
“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.”
His words make you wonder what else we overlook and ignore. What other things that we found so magical when we were children are now just part and parcel of the drudgery of everyday life? As a child I did lay flat on my back in the soft grass in my front yard with my little sister and find all manner of wonderful things in the clouds: happy faces and dogs, magic carpets and fairies, castles and sometimes, sometimes, even God’s face—because when you are a child you think anything is possible.
Recently, I wrote a poem called “The Divine” and with your permission (I must ask because I know you do not have to read it) I will share it with you now. It celebrates some of those everyday things that make a life:
Turns banal into inspiring
Evoking hidden magic
In the baking powder.
A tea canister
Holds warmth and comfort
Crusty French bread
Slathered in real butter
Heaven bursts forth
On the tongue.
Lunch with friends
Or favourite sister ~
Time stands still, waits,
Leaving a crumpled napkin.
If you do not think about it too hard.
Nonsense makes sense
If you wait long enough…..
It is the small things that are the big things. The big things melt away revealing the important things that sometimes get left behind as we grow up, grow older, and grow familiar. It is in the familiar that we need to recognize life’s mystical charm.
What are your small things that are really your big things?