Quick! Without looking, what does the sky look like right now? Are there any clouds? I asked this question of 10 people- and only one could tell me that they had looked at the sky today. Looking at the sky has the power to soothe the soul, and there are so many people who miss out. Look up!
Back in 1985 I read an article about Jack Borden and his desire to get people to really look at the sky and see it’s beauty. Before reading that article, I had never really looked at the sky- I could not have told you if there were clouds or clear skies without first walking outside and looking up. I am not sure what it was that touched me in that article so many years ago, but for the past 30 years I have loved the sky- everywhere I have roamed.
Someone asked me last week how I deal with stress. I couldn’t think of an answer then, but after thinking about it, I have the answer – I relieve stress by doing something that has become so natural, that I do not even realize I have reduced my stress: I look at the sky. Just the act of looking up and becoming aware of the vastness above me drains the stress right out of me and changes my thoughts to a more positive outlook. If ever I had a day with nothing to do, I would lie on my back and watch the sky (in between naps), and take pictures of the clouds.
Most of the following photos were taken with my cell phone- just imagine how beautiful they would be with a good camera and some filters!
Americans go on vacation in order to ‘be part of nature’, to feel the vastness of the cosmos, and, as Jack Borden (“Sky Man”) puts it: get a “feeling of exultation,” and a “communion with nature.” For those of us who cannot go on vacations, we don’t need a change of place, we just need a change of eyes.
In his book Look at the Sky! Eric Sloane wrote: “I believe that the sky was created for pure beholding; that one of men’s greatest joys can be simply looking at the sky.”
“Do not worry if you have built your castles in the air. They are where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.” Henry David Thoreau
“A child’s world is fresh and new and beautiful, full or wonder and excitement. It is our misfortune that for most of us that clear-eyed vision, that true instinct for what is beautiful and awe-inspiring, is dimmed and even lost before we reach adulthood. If I had influence with the good fairy who is supposed to preside over the christening of all children, I should ask that her gift to each child in the world be a sense of wonder so indestructible that it would last throughout life, as an unfailing antidote against the boredom and disenchantment of later year.”
― Rachel Carson, The Sense of Wonder
Wherever you are, the sky is above you.
To study the sky takes no elaborate field trips, or costly equipment. Begin by just becoming aware. Look up 3 times a day, and note what you see. Take a few photos of the sky and set a sky photo as your home screen on your phone and computer- and change them often. Look at the moon each night and really see the phases of the moon as it grows and diminishes through the month. Watch a bird fly, and notice the contrails of airplanes. Find forms in the clouds- does that cloud above you look like a dragon or a running child? Stand still and open yourself to the miracle that is the sky!
For the beauty of the earth,For the beauty of the skies,For the love which from our birthOver and around us lies,Lord of all, to thee we raise This our hymn of grateful praise.
For the beauty of each hour
Of the day and of the night,Hill and vale, and tree and flow’r,
Sun and moon, and stars of light,Lord of all, to thee we raiseThis our hymn of grateful praise.
For the joy of human love, Brother, sister, parent, child,Friends on earth, and friends above, For all gentle thoughts and mild,Lord of all, to thee we raiseThis our hymn of grateful praise.
And that’s not all. Sometimes the sky brings challenges… and hope:
The following links were sent to me by Jack Borden.
- I have never read or heard someone articulate the way I feel about scenery before reading this essay. It was good that I was reading alone- I could not help but exclaim “Yes, exactly!” many times over! This is an essay that should be required reading material for parents and teachers everywhere 🙂 Thomas Cole, “Essay on American Scenery” From: The American Monthly Magazine 1 (January 1836) http://www.tc.umn.edu/~danp/rhet8520/winter99/cole.html
- The Soul of All Scenery: A History of the Sky in Art, by Professor Stanley David Gedzelman, Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, City College of New York. http://www.sci.ccny.cuny.edu/~stan/skyart.html In this E-book, you will read about the sky in art, from before it appeared to the role of the science and mathematics which have transformed the art world.
- And finally, a blog post about starting your own business. What does that have to do with the sky? Only the last paragraph: “Seventy-five percent of people report that negative thinking goes away if you look toward the sky. So for those would-be entrepreneurs trying to fend off negative thinking, Fannin says: “Chin up.”“
Have you looked at the sky today? What did you see? Does looking up help you handle stress? Send me a photo of your sky!