Saturday, October 06, 2007


You know how sometimes you just see something that makes you want to photograph it, and show the world? When I was little, I can always remember wanting to photograph what I thought was the most beautiful sight imaginable... the sky. I have an odd fascination with the sky--the only thing I think is odd about it is that nobody else I know seems to share it, or mention it.

This time of year, in Raleigh, the sky is something extraordinary. This year we've had a pretty bad drought, so rain is a welcome occurrence, rare that it is. But even in rainy years the autumn sky is appealing. Why? The summers here are humid, and the winters are dry, occasionally damp and rainy. So the summer sky is a pale bluish-gray most days; I amuse myself by attempting to gauge the humidity by the color of the sky. Yes really. You will notice that days with lowest humidity have the strongest blue color. I think general air pollution contributes as well to the summer haze, and in some more crowded cities the "sky" might not be as clear a gauge. Winters here, then, have very deep blue skies, no clouds in sight, which are beautiful in their own way. I remember once, as a child, being at the beach in the summer, and looking out the window one morning to a deep blue sky (which is rare in the summer) and thinking it was cold outside because the sky was so deeply blue!

Now, nothing against the deep blue skies which are wondrous in their own right, but the sky that really makes me stop and gawk is the partly cloudy sky. Especially around sunset. The last couple days I've been driving home around 6pm which is about an hour before sunset (and since I'm fasting I keep close tabs on sunset time!) and there have been, in the weatherman's words, "scattered showers." So there were enough clouds in places to drop rain here and there, but by the late afternoon the clouds were broken apart, and between me and the sunset--the most astonishing place for them to be. So as I was driving home on a road that frequently encounters traffic delays due to glare I had a wide open view of the broken clouds being scattered by sunlight, and turning every color the sky could turn.

There was the road in front of me, trees on either side of the road, but still, up there, the sky is soo vast, and the clouds only underscore that fact. Here is this little road, these little cars, little trees, little buildings... and massive clouds. And they don't even account for a tiny fraction of the sky. Oh, the sky.

I remember when my family used to go camping, or to the beach, or anywhere really, and driving back in the car, around sunset, watching the clouds. Whenever I myself am driving at that time of day, I can't help but notice and be amazed. The last two days I took pictures with my cell phone... they don't do justice, but they do show the scale... how trees and cars are just nothing compared to the sky which is reaching over everything below.

I love how the clouds help shade our eyes from the pure sunlight. I love how the light shines from behind them. I love how they let the sky turn every shade between red and blue, colors deeper and clearer than any artist could paint. Just an ordinary sky, ordinary clouds, but a spectacle that could only be created by Allah.

I don't know how people can look at the sky and not believe in Allah, the Lord of the heavens and the earth and everything in between. The sky is just one miracle we can witness everyday but yet people don't, they ignore it and focus on the ground, the trees and the buildings, the cars and the people... and they miss the big picture, the vast inescapable sky. Why?

See they not what is before them and behind them, of the sky and the earth? If We wished, We could cause the earth to swallow them up, or cause a piece of the sky to fall upon them. Verily in this is a Sign for every devotee that turns to Allah (in repentance). 34:9

And do people see it? Do they see how small they are under the sky though the earth spreads out in front of them and behind them and to their sides? That all too easily can it shake and crack, open and swallow them? Do they see at night how the stars are spread out, how meteoroids and asteroids can fly so close to us, and how sometimes they do, in fact, fall?

Isn't the sky a sign? A proof? And a lesson in humility.

And yet under such a gorgeous scene cars keep driving. Drivers listening to the radio, eyes on the car and road in front of them, perhaps on their speedometer. How is that for an analogy regarding preoccupation with dunya.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

When I was a kid I used to like to lay on my back on top of my dad's van, which was parked in our driveway, and look at the clouds and watch the shapes and watch them slowly glide across the sky...
Hehe.. so your not the *only* cloud lover...
I'm 24, and I still like to just gaze out at the sky sometimes... it's peaceful and relaxing...
If you get a good view around sunset sometimes, when the sky is purple and pink and orange... that's gorgeous...
lol..anyway..enough cloud talk
Love your blog, mashallah... keep it up!