28 February 2009

The sign

A devotional

It was the day before the big snow, more snow than this land had known in decades. Distraught over all manner of stuff, she hadn’t slept much the night before.

Morning came not a moment too soon. She poured tea, stared out the patio window over the rooftops to a small patch of visible sky and said, out loud, “I need a sign in the clouds.”

The notion was not premeditated. Words were thought and spoken in tandem. Surprised when she heard them she reasoned, I don’t do these things — close my eyes and point at random Biblical texts; forward emails and wait for undefined promissory miracles. I don’t expect personal signs from the heavens above or the earth below.

She cast the concept aside. And anyway, what kind of sign did she expect from this sky?

It’s a grey-dreary day. The heavens dull, thick, featureless.

But the unremarkable sky yields.

She blinks. Weary eyes play tricks, she thinks. She looks away and back again. Still there: An enormous outstretched hand with a little white cloud jumping (almost) out of it. The generous hand is open in a gesture of compassion while the elfin cloud leaps like popcorn frozen in time. And with so much vigor, it’s dreadfully close to bolting out. Farther to the right, a tiny demonish character sneers above the outstretched hand, but the beast is trivial in comparison.

Silly me, she thinks, if you want to see pictures in the clouds you usually can. With every remaining sip, she observes keenly for the next creative allegory.

But when the hand and restless cloud pass, there are no more clouds — only the overcast backdrop like before, a canvas without form and void.

A statement of condition. A caution, like a street sign that warns yield.

She didn’t ask for answers. She asked for a sign.

Now to stop jumping.