The Real Reason For Clouds

We stop, we stare, we click, we share. Facebook is filled with sunset pictures. There are even facebook pages that are solely dedicated to facebook sunset photos. The Wonderful World of Sunsets, one of dozens of “sunset only” facebook sites, has over 360,000 followers. Weird, but mildly impressive. So why are people so strangely drawn to an event that happens everywhere in the world at the end of every single day?

Well of course it’s because we love the colors, movement, and surprises–it’s art in real time. No two are alike so each sunset is literally a once in a lifetime event. (No one has ever said, “Oh, I’ve seen that one already.”) And even the act of looking up draws us out of our earthbound experience into something bigger and more beautiful.


Fernandina water front.

For me, sunsets are a great excuse to sit and rest during a hike. “Oooh! Look Tom, the sun is setting. Let’s stop here and watch for a couple of hours.” And maybe I’m dim witted but this was the first year that I noticed something wonderful about sunsets: No one takes pictures of sunsets on clear sunny days. It takes a relatively cloudy evening to deliver a proper sunset. And a truly menacing sky will produce the most spectacular palette. If there are no clouds, there is nothing to reflect the sun light. As the angle of the sun’s rays lower in the sky, the clouds mirror the light. They are transformed from their gray and gloomy appearance to a brilliant infinitely dynamic likeness of the sun itself.  From the sun’s point of view, there is no such thing as a dark cloud.

Perhaps this is the true reason for clouds and for the inexhaustible number of sunset photos. We expected a storm but the sun changed it into a light show. Our forecast for gloomy gray skies is surprised by the sun’s persistent presence right up until the last bit of daylight yields to the night.

When you snap your next sunset selfie, remember that Jesus’ persistent love is illuminating the gloom in your life. Remember that every day holds a new surprise of joy and mercy. And from His perspective, all that would cloud your life looks like art in motion when exposed to His brilliant presence.

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim to work of His hands. Psalm 19:1

Enjoy your weekly hike.


Same scene, minutes later. See what I mean?



Heritage Point

Tom and I barely knew one another when we got married. Well, at least it seems that way when I look back on things. Engaged only 3 months, we were still getting to know one another on our honeymoon. It was our first time. Hiking.

Pipestem State Park in West Virginia has some beautiful hiking trails. And since that’s where we went for our 4 day honeymoon, we hiked. We did other stuff too (coming soon: Golf vs Hike) but it was our first hike together.

Just a slip of a girl along side the man of her dreams, we headed to Heritage Point, an outcropping of rocks that overlooks the Blue River gorge and our little hotel located on it’s banks. (Cool fact: The only way to get down to our hotel was by cable car. Inconvenient but very romantic.) The “point” at Heritage Point looks as if a pile of huge grey boulders were about to go over a cliff and were suddenly stopped by the hand of God. The windswept pile literally hangs over a sheer drop that eventually ends in the river. Between the two most prominent rocks there is a tree. It appears to be growing right out of the rocks. Short, scrappy and stunted by wind and snow, its roots reach down around the boulders into pockets of soil beneath the point. But when an observer looks more closely, it is not one but two trees, a pine and a cedar, so intertwined at their base that the needles and branches seem like they come from the same trunk.

Two Trees at Heritage Point

I hope I don’t need to unpack that obvious metaphor for marriage. Two become one. Different, yet the same. Reaching deep for nourishment. Standing on the Rock. You get it.

Who do you wrap your life around? Who grows along side you steep cliffs of life? We’ve returned to Heritage Point many times, with our kids and by ourselves, and have seen 27 years of growth in the two trees. They seem stronger each year. And together they are certainly stronger than either of them would be alone on the edge of a cliff. 


Posted by on January 1, 2014 in The Hikes