Our Scripture Reading
Genesis 1: 1 –
If you wish all of Chapter 1
1In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.
3Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. 4And God saw the light, that it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness. 5God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night. So the evening and the morning were the first day.
6Then God said, “Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.” 7Thus God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament; and it was so. 8And God called the firmament Heaven. So the evening and the morning were the second day.
It is rather late for our walk, but today has been a day of errands. Do you have those days when there are so many errands to be done, you find that most of the day is gone by the time you return home? Well, our errands took much longer than expected today. I was so pleased that you telephoned me and told me you could not join me for our walk until later this afternoon.
Today has been very warm for a day for February in New Hampshire. Some places, it is said, even reached fifty degrees today. This morning I knew it was going to be a warmer day for the “sky” told me so. Do you look up to the sky very often? I certainly have done so more often since we moved to New Hampshire. Part of the reason I do so is because I am living in a country setting but also because our area is an area of hills. We live on Briar “Hill” Road; when we go to Concord, we pass a farm called Dimond “Hill” Farm; they have wonderful apples at Gould “Hill” farm and at Beech “Hill” Farm, when the season is warm, they sell delicious ice cream. Living in a place of hills you have wide vistas where you can see a vast expanse of sky. It was like that this morning.
When I looked up at the sky this morning, it was filled with dappled clouds. Now I knew that would have an effect on the weather and that there had to be an old saying about a dappled sky. Sure enough there is. Because a dappled sky looks like the scales on a fish, a dappled sky can be termed a mackerel sky. “Mackerel sky, mackerel sky. Never long wet and never long dry.” The Internet also informs us, “Mackerel sky, not twenty four hours dry.” One usually sees a mackerel sky when a warm front is approaching the area, and sure enough, it turned out to be very warm as you can tell from our afternoon walk.
At Greenhill Farm the location of my grandfather and father’s farm, there was a large expanse of field. The farmhouse stood on a knoll and, you looked down into the meadows. You could not help but notice the sky both in the day and in the nighttime at the farm. How often we would see the sky red at night and we would say to ourselves, “Sailors delight”, and when it was red in the morning, we would mentally repeat, “Sailors take warning.” And those sayings pretty much told the truth. When we were haying in August and we needed time for the hay to dry before we harvested it and put it in the barn, we were not happy when it was “ red in the morning” for it foretold that a wind driven rain would blow across the meadows and would soak the newly mown hay and cause it to mildew. No worry about that now in February – those fields are covered with snow.
Those dappled clouds were termed by the French as a “fleecy sky”, in Germany “sheep clouds”, and in Italy “little sheep clouds.” Those terms define how a dappled sky can look if one has an imagination and a poetic soul.
Gerard Manley Hopkins a Jesuit priest and a Victorian poet wrote a poem to dappled things called Pied Beauty. That poem reads:
“Glory be to God for dappled things –
For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim:
Fresh firecoal-chestnut-falls; finches wings;
Landscape plotted and pierced – fold, fallow, and plough;
And all trades, their gear and tackle and trip.
All things counter, original, spare, strange:
Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
With swift, slow; sweet, sour; a dazzle, dim;
He fathers forth whose beauty is past change;
We live in a wonderful creation – God’s beauty is seen everywhere. It is seen in a dappled sky, in a trout in a cold mountain stream, in finches’ wings, and a brinded cow.
When I discovered Gerard Manley Hopkins, rather when my professors taught me about him in college, I came to love his poetry and his faith in God and God’s world. His may seem a strange form of poetry, yet when you recite it – it brings forth the most wonderful feelings and emotions of a wondrous God and His creation.
And sometimes when you look to the sky, you can find that it is a place of fun and laughter. So many years ago at the farm in August, I would lie in the field before the farmhouse with a long piece of green hay in my mouth, and I would look to the clouds. Within my imagination, I could picture so many different figures – monsters, dragons, alligators, birds, people and cows or horses.
And one day sitting out on the steps of Second Church looking up at the sky with the sexton John Denis, I saw a pig floating by. I asked John if he ever looked to the clouds in the sky and if could he see the pig up there. He hesitated for a moment, looked at me as though I was a rather queer person, and then a huge smile went across his face. He began to laugh, and then he said, “I do, I really see a pig up there.” I like to believe John began to watch the sky, and after our walk, I hope we will both look up to the sky more often and see the beauty and the power of our Wonderful Creator, Loving God.
With me this week, let us both pay more attention to the sky, and how it tells us of the beauty of God’s created world. Look to the sky and find God whispering in your very soul – “look my child I created all of this for you.”
Our Prayer: Dear God help us to look for the beauty by which we are surrounded. So often, we walk looking at our feet when we need to look up to the sky above. So often, we become lost to your beauty in the stress of our daily lives, but if we will just take a moment and look upward we will find that stress drops away, a smile comes across our face, and we are filled with a sense of security in a world governed by such a magnificent, caring Creator. Enough looking down at our feet; look up, look up to the sky; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
And now may the Lord watch between me and thee while we are absent one from the other.
*Closing note: I so very much appreciate your comments on our walk together. If you have enjoyed today’s walk, or you have a future suggestion for a topic or person to walk with, please let me know in the place for comments. God’s blessing be upon us – In Christian love ken