I enjoy driving my daughter to school. We sometimes talk through the entire 20-minute trip, while other times we just listen to music. Then there are times we make up stories. Here’s one that Claire and I came up with when we were inspired by a pretty amazing early morning sky just last week:
There once was a cloud that was very jealous in his heart. He traveled the skies of many countries and was sometimes hailed by onlookers as the bringer of shade, the producer of rain, and the creator of shadows.
And these accolades produced what originally seemed to be just a very small thing: pride.
But as time passed, the cloud grew so great in his own eyes and so important among his own thoughts that very soon he was all he thought of.
There was, however, one thing bedsides himself that the cloud nearly always marveled at – the sunrise. And the more he marveled at it, the more he longed for it. And the more he longed for it, the more he plotted to have it.
When it rises, there is a brief period of time in which the sun seems to linger midway along the horizon. Its rays spread upward into a sea-blue sky and crisscross themselves as they create a kaleidoscope of otherworldly reds and purples and pinks and oranges.
Lesser concerned clouds take little notice of their own subtle role in this event. They simply are there, paying little mind to the shades and colors, the beams of light that intersect them and reflect through and over and under and within their billowing forms. Our cloud, however, was not among the lesser concerned.
More and more, he watched the sunrise with such envy that it consumed his every thought. He would hear the peaceful sighs of the onlookers below, hear little ones as they commented on the brilliant work that captured their budding imaginations and transformed an otherwise dull and grey day into a fantastic epic of hope and light.
“How dare the sunrise do this to me!” he said sternly to himself.
“How dare you do this to me!” he said to the sunrise itself. “How dare you…”
With that, the angry cloud rumbled and thundered as it moved to block the sunrise. He pushed himself directly into its colorful rays and pushed away those other, lesser concerned clouds around him.
He said, “I want that sunrise for myself, all to myself, and I want it…now!”
And then, the most amazing thing happened. Children on their way to school were the first to call attention to it. Families and bus drivers and other early morning risers paused in awe.
The clouds that he had previously labeled as “the lesser concerned” gathered back into their place near the light and a quiet settled upon them all. They welcomed the jealous and lonely cloud into their midst and shared the light and warmth of that sunrise. Rays of color quickly coursed around and under and over and through him and he immediately knew that he could not contain it, could not hold it all to himself.
In the coming days, children and families and bus drivers and other early morning risers looked forward to the dawn as they never had before. Many even described the time as something “like the picture perfect portrait of a thousand brilliant sunrises.”
And a previously jealous and lonely cloud stood happily, peacefully, among it all.