Written in the sky

Glorious clouds

By Sherrie Robins

It was a most unusual day. It had started out differently. Ordinary. Nice. With a bit of spontaneous adventure thrown in.

We headed out to grab the last vestiges of the sunflower fields. It was later in the Fall, but thought that some interesting shots must still be there. My Son had recently earned his drone pilot’s license, and he was ready to use it! I love tagging along, on my always curious adventure of finding new photos.

We arrived and honestly, it was a field of almost all dead flowers, something that wouldn’t work very well for drone footage.

Undaunted, we headed out towards the lake. Lake Ontario offers the lure of a great photo opportunity.

We were zigzagging  through the countryside, when I spotted a darling country church. With the Autumn leaves in force, we agreed this could also work for us.

So we left the car and came towards the church from the other side, revealing a beautiful tree lined lane leading down the center of a large cemetery. I grabbed some shots of Sean, walking there, amidst the trees and tombstones and thinking of his near brush with death…but that’s another story.

Sean then took his turn and let the drone do it’s work, to his satisfaction.

We eventually meandered over to the Niagara River at it’s mouth, leading into Lake Ontario. Here he got the eye-candy shots he’d been looking for.

Later in the day, after our journey had concluded, I stopped at the grocery store.  Police and various emergency vehicles were lined up in front of the entrance, so I hesitated to venture in, but they were finishing up and and waved me in.

Curious as to the nature of the incident and knowing it probably wasn’t good, I hoped for the best. But, I came to find out, a man had just died.

Perusing the aisles, amidst broccoli and baked breads my mind wandered. What had he been thinking? Did he realize that this very ordinary errand would be his final deed?

At the checkout, a cashier filled me in. The gentleman and his wife were on their way home from the hospital, where he had just been discharged. They’d stopped in to pick up a few groceries when he began tp experience some pain and became in need of assistance. My cashier had urged him to let her call an ambulance, but he said he was fine.  Again she’d offered, but he refused. Soon he collapsed. The ambulance came anyway.   He didn’t make it.

After all, it had just been a trip to the store. I’m sure he’d been hundreds of times during his lifetime. Yet, this was the end.

So, I left with my purchases, mulling it all over.

Loading up my goods in the trunk, I couldn’t help but notice the sky developing towards something good and quickly grabbed my camera. The day’s events were rolling around in my mind. The dead sunflower field. The trip to the graveyard. The man’s last moments in the grocery store.

I watched as the huge clouds billowed and blossomed, slowly but steadily ballooning before my eyes. Great giant cauliflower heads, juxtaposed against dark, gloomy storm clouds.

As all this played out, the sun’s setting rays reached from behind, lighting the sky afire.

It was all so…should I say it, heavenly?

And then, as clear as anything, a Scripture verse popped into my mind “Oh death, where is your victory, oh grave, where is your sting?”

The point had been made. Through this ordinary/extraordinary day, death had been woven throughout. We’d been searching for anything but; the life and beauty of  flowers, the stateliness of a country church, amid the colorful life of autumn and finally engaging in the completely ordinary task of picking up groceries to bring happiness and health to our family. Then, it came down to my continual pursuit of photos which turned out to reveal a poignant wrap up for the entire day! The crowning glory of it!

The day should have, or at least could have had a pall over it. It had been marred by death. But the exclamation mark at the end of the sentence sent shivers down my spine.

Reflecting on all that had transpired, the events had culminated in a final point, beautifully portrayed through that drama in the sky. We can indeed, search for life amidst the ashes. Because, inevitably, we all face it, this thing called death. Every person born on the planet, this place called earth. This wonderful, amazing, awesome, painful, dreadful, unbelievable place.

Perhaps one day I may revisit the cemetery and read some of the epitaphs written on the tombstones to see what those who walked our path before us felt was important enough to leave as their parting words. I may walk, down that tree lined lane, grateful our Son is still with us. Or maybe I’ll stroll through the sunflower field in summer, soaking in it’s warmth, pondering how all will soon be brown and dry and fall to the earth. Or I might even comb the aisles of that store, remembering how a man had once done the same, and picked up his last loaf of bread, never to be eaten.

But most importantly and most assuredly, I will recall the revelation of water droplets and light, which declared hope, written in the sky for all to see. It was the beauty, the glory, that took the sting out of it all. The verse dropped into my heart; the bloom of heaven, light revealed, causing darkness to slink away. “Oh grave, where is your victory? Oh death, where is your sting?”

Yes. That was enough for me.