Seeing a cloud in the summer months is about as likely as seeing a UFO. But with the arrival of fall, we are suddenly surrounded.
Some are tame and fuzzy, like floating bunnies. Others are dark and wild, roaming around like sullen teenagers. It is quite the motley crew up there, one that might just as easily result in a tornado as a rainbow.
The most striking thing about this time of year is the way the sky falls from the sky. Clouds are no longer "way up there." They are in your face. Driving around town I feel more like I am in the cockpit of an airplane than in the seat of a car.
In ancient Greek and Hebrew, the word for "sky" and "heaven" was the the same. For the ancients, heaven was an ever-present reality, as inescapable as the sky.
We believe heaven is a distant realm. The only way to enter is to do something drastic, like die. We think we are shut out because we are in the wrong time and place. More likely, we are shut out because we are in the wrong state of mind. We grovel around, blinded by worries and grudges and greed.
Jesus' message was not, "Die and go to heaven," but "Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand." The assumption is not so much that heaven is inaccessible as it is that we are inadmissible.
We think of heaven as a fuzzy place, an escape from reality. What if heaven is so starkly real, so intensely delightful, so unflinchingly honest, that our saggy souls can't take the glory?
As I wind my way through this fall, I lift my eyes to the heavens and try to remember that I am invited in, if only I have courage to enter.
Maury Robertson is a writer who lives in Yuba City. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.