A fair sky gave good account of its vastness the other evening.
Wrapped edge-to-edge in a quilt of cirrocumulus, the bright late-afternoon firmament simply delighted the eye.
And it was just about then I noticed a small single-engine plane, puttering high and past overhead. Out of curiosity, I snapped a photo…only to find upon further review that the airborne vessel seemed to have disappeared from the frame.
I’m sure there’s an optical-science explanation for the phenomenon. I found myself more interested in its effect on my spirit – noting how easily this human-crafted artifice could be swallowed up in the sky.
It’s not an inconsiderable feat, after all, to imagine…design…build…fuel…and fly a machine capable of breaking the bonds of gravity (even if ever-so-briefly). But in truth, all that air-conquering ingenuity pales in comparison to the air itself – the great baby-blue dome overhead, and the many interconnected natural systems and forces it envelopes.
Focus only on the plane, and it’s easy to allow pride to well up. Technology can inflate our egos – convincing us that we’re more powerful, more accomplished than we actually are: impervious to faults, oblivious to boundaries, able to overcome any imperfection. But that’s not the whole story, because there are forces at work in the universe that can make mincemeat of our self-reliance.
As Holy Week begins, I am reminded of dear Peter and all his puffed-up humanity – absolutely vehement in his assertion of loyalty toward Jesus:
“Even though I should have to die with you, I will not deny you.”
It doesn’t take much adversity, though, to expose Peter’s self-deception. Within an hour or two, he’s backing away from his promise, backing away from the very One who gives him hope:
Peter followed [Jesus] at a distance…
Still, Peter is there, isn’t he? Peter is just a tiny bit more loyal than the rest. Even in his weakness, he manages to stay in the vicinity of Salvation. And so in the end, he is not swallowed up in sin.
A lesson worth contemplating, perhaps, as we consider our own insignificance – and the immeasurable gift poured out for us on the cross.
As the Psalmist says,
What else have I in heaven but You?
Apart from You, I want nothing on earth.
My flesh and my heart waste away;
God is the strength of my heart,
my portion forever.
Let us pause now…to recall that we are in the presence of the Holy & Merciful One.