“There is something wonderful about the bigness and the loneliness and the windiness of it all.” Georgia O’Keeffe
Ever since I was a child I’ve been enchanted by the magnificence of the sky. Day or night, cloudy or clear, I’m fascinated by its sheer beauty. I’m not exactly sure when my fascination began, I must have been around 8 or 9 I think. Back then I had no idea that the sky was so vast and went on and on through space, time and beyond. For me the sky consisted of the patch of blue above and around me for as far as I could see. That was plenty big for me. I used to love laying back on the lawn and staring up at the sky. I could lay there forever, well maybe not forever but for a long time. I would watch the planes fly overhead, birds, clouds and sometimes just an empty sky. Sometimes I would go out at sunset and watch day become night. I did that more when I was a teen. I loved watching the stars slowly appear and still do. Sometimes I would get lucky and see a shooting star or two. There sure seemed to be a lot more shooting stars back then.
I don’t really know why I enjoy looking at the sky so much. I suppose playing the cloud game when I was little had something to do with it. Remember playing? I loved looking for shapes in the clouds it was an awesome way to exercise our imaginations. The old TV series ‘The Adventures of Superman’ may have also played a small part in my love for the sky. I watched it everyday and every episode began with an introduction that included the line, “Look up in the sky! ” And look I did and I liked what I saw.
Sometimes what I saw in the sky surprised or even scared me. Sometimes there were instances of unexplained lights, shadows or unusual looking objects lurking among the clouds. But one particular memory stands out above the rest. I was about 13 when it happened. I was home alone one late afternoon and feeling very hungry. Rather than trying to fix something for myself I decided to walk up to the newly opened In & Out on Azusa Avenue a few blocks away. I remember standing by the take out window waiting for my order and watching the sunset. The sky was a reddish orange color and the few clouds that there were on the horizon looked like colorful, cotton candy. It was truly beautiful, an incredible Autumn evening.
Soon I was walking west towards home munching on fries and sipping root beer. The sun was down and the sky slowly began to grow dark. As it did so I began to see some unusual lightness in a large area of the western sky high above the horizon. There appeared to be several colorful, thick, elongated, gaseous tracks illuminating the sky. I’d never seen anything like it before and had no idea what I was witnessing. Being quite naive, I gotta tell you, I was scared. my first thought was aliens but the more I stared at the sky the more certain I became that the world was coming to an end. Hell the nuns at school were always saying that God would soon be coming to pass judgement on our sinful world. I guess they were right. I was waiting for a host of angels followed by Christ in a golden chariot to appear amidst the gaseous colors. The end had come and I hadn’t even eaten my burger yet. I nearly ran the rest of the way home and hoped someone would be there.
All around me life went on normally. Cars drove past, an old man was watering his lawn, a woman and a young boy were walking their dog around Paramount School. Everything appeared normal except the thing in the sky. I began to wonder if perhaps I was the only one who was seeing this phenomena. Maybe the whole world wasn’t ending, perhaps it was only my world, my life that was ending. I wondered if maybe this is what happens before you die. I was beside myself and nearly in tears. Thankfully I didn’t run into any of my friends along the way, they would have probably thought I was nuts.
When I got home there was still no one there. Being the good Catholic School kid that I was, I ran to my room, knelt down next to my bed and began to pray. I think I even cried. I don’t know how long that went on all I knew is that something big was occurring and soon the world would end or my life would end. I kept waiting to hear Gabriel sound his trumpet but that never happened. As you’ve probably already figured out it was not the end of the world as we know it. I sure wish I’d known sooner. It would have saved me a ton of worry.
I didn’t find out until a little later when the phone rang. I raced to the phone and answered it excitedly. It was my cousin Dave. Before I could say a word he was asking if I’d been outside and seen the sky. I immediately felt a sense of relief I wasn’t alone, others had seen it too. I was just getting ready to answer him and tell him what I thought was happening when I heard him say something about a missile being launched earlier from Vandenberg Air Force Base near Santa Barbara and how the launch was causing this incredible light show in the western sky. Duh! I felt quite the fool.
Dave continued talking about how cool the sky looked and asked if I’d seen it. I told him I had and asked where he heard about it. On the news he answered. The news! Of course, why hadn’t I thought about turning on the evening news when I got home. I was such a dummy! Well I’m sure you know that I didn’t say a word about the trauma I had just gone through to Dave. I felt embarrassed enough already. After we hung up I went back outside. The sky was dark and starry and looked beautiful, but faint traces of colored gases were still visible. A missile for Godsakes! A missile had scared the crap out of me! Unbelievable.
Well I still look up in the sky every chance I get. I love it. And yes I’ve seen the colors in the sky several times since then. I tell you, knowing what it is doesn’t make it any less spectacular. And who knows perhaps one day instead of us dying and going up to the Spirit in the sky, the Spirit in the sky will come down from the sky in a golden chariot with a host of angels on either side of Him. I’m certain the light show from His return will make the missile launch sky look drab in comparison. And believe me, even though we don’t know the hour that He will appear, I’ll be ready. Just waiting on Gabriel to blow His horn. keep your eyes and ears open.
Just a thought,