The Blues


Red sky at night, sailor’s delight;

Red sky at morning, sailor take warning.

I write this to you from the sunny shores of north Florida, where my family holds a reunion, and has so for over 30 years.  Rhonda, the boys, and I have never been close enough to attend, but this year we’re able.

We drove down on Monday morning, and will be back on Saturday, so we’ll be able to worship with you all on Sunday.

I’ve enjoyed these days under the clear Florida sky.  I have a love affair with the ocean that has been going on since my childhood.

It reminds me of one of my favorite poems by one of my favorite poets, Nayyirah Waheed. She penned, “how does the sea remember me. every time.”

It is a mystery.  The sea seems to remember me. Or I it. Or both.

I come by my love for the beach and Jimmy Buffett music honestly: my whole family on my father’s side are shore people.

You could say that I have the blues these days.

Not the sad blues, but the content blues.  Blue like the Florida ocean. Blue like the sky.

The blue sky and the blue ocean share common habits.  Both reflect that short wavelength color (blue) most of the time (as long as the water is clear…the algae disperses the light in such a way that greens and reds take over, which give our Carolina waters a murky look, sometimes).  Science is amazing.

These blues down here in this clearer water are sustained, though, and the horizon is only distinguished because the blue turns from royal to Tar Heel blue in a nice clean line over the expanse of the end of the world.

The sky has historically been a place to look for meaning and signs by the human race.  Last night Rhonda and I stood out on the beach and stared up at the constellations.  We were able to see many of them here because the light pollution is relatively low.

We found Venus shining brightly and, since there was no moon, we were able to plainly see the constellation Scorpius and the part of Ursa Major we call Big Dipper. Lyra and Aquila were also clear (or so we armchair astronomers think).  The skies were beautiful.

And in the evening every day (so far) the red sky has met us with welcome arms (see the truism at the top of the page for reference).  My grandfather used to say that this was a good sign for sailors: the fishing would be good; the seas would be calm.

Sailors can tell you as much about the sky as they can about the sea.  The ones worth their salt, at least.  The sea and the sky live in balance with one another, each interpreting the other. Perhaps that’s why they kiss out there on the horizon.  They live in an entangled and necessary relationship.

This Sunday we’ll see how the sky continues to speak God’s word in this world.  That sentence might seem a little fuzzy (dare I say cloudy?) to you right now, but I promise it will make more sense soon.

While I do not believe that the sky predicts the future, I do think that all creation speaks of God, the sky included.  And I do believe it is living.  It may not be a “being,” but it is alive. And our obligation to care for our sky, and to see it as a living part of our common life, is part of God’s call in the creation story.

Our atmosphere is specifically tuned for life, which is remarkable in and of itself.

And I am in awe of it, especially this week.

So, I encourage you to stare at the stars some in the coming days.  Daydream.  Find the shapes in the clouds. Take comfort in the red sky at night, and the promise of the rainbow.  And if you’re by the shore, take a moment to watch them blend together and stand in silence at the beauty and wonder of what is.

In other words: I encourage you to get the blues.

See you in church.


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