Clouds and stars

I went to an art shop recently that sold brushes, canvases, colouring pencils, paper and easels. The brushes were of such great quality I couldn’t stop touching them and the pencils felt so good as they glided across the paper like ballet dancing water boatman.

I have been struck recently at what an amazing artist God is. Of course there is all the amazing things on this planet like mountains and forests and butterflies and bed bugs (especially when seen under the electron microscope). But I have been noticing the sky a lot more recently. How cleaver of God to built not just one but two amazingly different frames that complement each other so wonderfully while never detracting from the terrestrial masterpiece beneath.

No artist’s pallet or photographer’s plate could ever hope to capture the way clouds glow as light falls on them. Not only that, but each glorious glance is different. Wind and turbulence cause them to drift and billow,  sun and moon arc around, and even morning and evening light has its own distinct chromatic character (I am never sure why though).

The night sky is altogether different. You would think it would be boring consisting simply of tiny dots of light of varying brightness but not so. There is something totally captivating about the twinkling light from just one star and as we zoom in each humble dot turns into a gargantuan ball of burring plasma. And there may be planets and moons and who knows what else around it. The armament of the stars adds another layer of beauty. Somehow, each  seems to have been placed with an artistic eye.

The dynamics of the night sky are different again from the day’s. Chaotic fluid dynamics are replaced by clockwork precision and predictability. The pin prick planets move slowly and regularly, meteors flash and are gone,  asteroids take their time, and all the while the panorama of a billion billion stars rotates with the hours and seasons and millennia.

People and whole civilisations have been fascinated with all those dots for thousands of years.

Like all good art the sky fires up the observer’s imagination and lets him or her see more than the sum of the parts. By day a child sees Mickey Mouse in the clouds and by night astrologers join the dots to make scorpions and bears. All that spread out 360 degrees  around the globe, ever changing over time and location. Wow! How does the hymn go?

O Lord my God! When I in awesome wonder
Consider all the works Thy hands have made.
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder,
Thy power throughout the universe displayed.

Then sings my soul, my Saviour God, to Thee;
How great Thou art, how great Thou art!
Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee:
How great Thou art, how great Thou art!

Then in the next verse we get to the earth itself:

When through the woods and forest glades I wander
And hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees;
When I look down from lofty mountain grandeur
And hear the brook and feel the gentle breeze:

But all that is just the stage for the most glorious thing of all:

And when I think that God, His Son not sparing,
Sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in;
That on the cross, my burden gladly bearing,
He bled and died to take away my sin:

And one day we will see the full glory and sun and moon and stars will bow out:

When Christ shall come with shouts of acclamation
And take me home, what joy shall fill my heart!
Then I shall bow in humble adoration,
And there proclaim, my God, how great Thou art!

I was so pleased I got round to doing clouds in my virtual world a few years back. I know  in comparison they are like a two year olds uncoordinated scratches and blotched daubings but, in my defense I would this: Not only is there some truth in the saying that “imitation is the best form of flattery”, but imitation is also a good means to appreciation. And I really really appreciate God’s awe inspiring artistic mater pieces in the sky.

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