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March 29, 2009

Two Things

Clouds! I'm really kind of obsessed with them. It seems that it really doesn't matter where you are; clouds are beautiful. On a bus ride home from Eynsham the other day, I was struck yet again by an amazing skyscape. Seen from the top of a double-decker bus, stretching out over fields and trees, lit by the setting sun, the clouds rose in ranks of puffed majesty. It was simple joy to relax in my seat and let my eyes feast on the splendor God created as the bus raced and swayed on the journey home. In recent days, I've seen clouds out the window, rolling by with visible speed, changing shape before my eyes. In Rome, they formed a moody backdrop, cresting the ruins of ancient power in light and shadow. Back home in Arizona, the desert sky exhibits some of the most amazing sunsets imaginable, and the clouds glow pink and red and orange. Once, in Russia, I sat upon a boat in the Gulf of Finland and wondered at the simple size of the sky above me. It seemed so big, scattered clouds going on forever in every direction. I suppose, like a good American, I'm a consumer of clouds. I take pleasure in them all: white, grey, and red, glowing or opaque, moving or standing still, dropped in a deep blue sea. But this kind of consumption is a kinder, gentler sort. I can take as much as I desire without lessening the supply. Others, I hope, will do the same and receive the same joy.

Changing gears a little bit--okay, quite a bit--I'd like to mention time and the use of it. I don't have the answers, but maybe you can identify with my questions. I'm not really sure how to use my time. There are so many things worth doing and not enough time to do them. There are books worth reading, things worth learning, people worth knowing, and places worth going. Money has to be earned, chores have to be done, the future has to be considered, and I have to sleep... How do I balance these things? And then to complicate the matter, I've been given free choice (whose bright idea was that, anyway?). Even once I've balanced my activities, I have to choose which books to read, which things to learn, which future to pursue, and how many seconds of sleep to squeeze in. How do I make these choices? I have to admit, the idea of endless eternal eternity forever after death is somewhat terrifying to me at times, but at least there will be time to do everything--sort of (philosophical discussions of time and eternity deferred to another day). Here and now, even a reasonable grasp of important priorities fails to provide enough guidance for day-to-day decisions. I know God has a plan; I know I want to follow it; I know how to ask Him; but it's still difficult, and I'm still not entirely sure how to use my time.

This is the point where clouds come back in again. There's something so amazing about sitting back and appreciating the view. It's a chance for joy in the moment. The decisions still need to be made, and they are still important, but there's one more thing I need to be sure to do along the way. I need to take time to enjoy things as they come. God is in the habit of putting beauty in the way, but I can only benefit if I take time to appreciate it. In the midst of the choices and the pressures, I know that God is in control. I don't always know which path to take or what to be doing in preparation for the future, but I do know God wants me to enjoy the journey, and I'll start by observing the clouds.

Chris Van Egmond
Fellow, Hilary Term '09

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