Since the death of my father about eight months ago I have become very fond of the sky, especially the grand clouds floating in the large Texas sky. My father spent the last 15 years of his life living in the far west Texas desert. There the sky and its majesty are hard to ignore. Here in the suburbs where I live you must actually make an effort to notice the sky. But I have been noticing. I have been gazing up and seeing the most beautiful spring and summer of clouds and vibrant sunsets. Towering storm clouds of grey growing and changing as a storm rolls in or large fluffy white clouds hung in a bright blue sky. I have become so aware and intrigued by the beauty of the clouds.
While visiting with a friend who is half Navajo I told her of this new fondness for the sky hoping to articulate the beauty and catharsis I experience in the moments of introspection while gazing at the sky. How do you tell your fried that some how you feel connected to a cloud or derive pleasure in the form of bliss while staring into space and imaging the greatness that is conscience existence.. Something that clouds and the universe do not poses.
My friend began to tell me of the Kachina. Very simply put a doll or earthly representation of an ancestor sprit worshiped by the Hopi and Pueblo Indians of the southwest. She mentioned one particular Kachina the Angak’china or the Long-Haired Kachina. He is a bringer of gentle rains and flowers. As I began to read and research these Kachinas I came across the Cloud People of the Hopi. The cloud people can be represented as a kachina but is usually more present in the white cotton mask placed on the dead. The Cloud People are ancestors coming back to bring rain .
My father was raised as a Baptist. He quickly rejected the denomination and began searching for meaning in his life just as many people do. In our modern world of science, philosophy, new age spirituality, and traditional religion there are many ideas and explanations of life and its greater meaning. With all the science, philosophy, and spirituality it comes back to one thing for me, conscience existence. When I was a child probably about eight years old I had a conversation with my father about what it must be like to be dead. I said to him that I thought being dead must be similar to before you are born. You just don’t exist. This dark and absent place is void of conscience existence. You can say these words as a child and understand them in some form. But it is not until you are an adult that you can truly appreciate this bizarre gift we have that is life. I think my father got it. He understood just how precious this life is.
For me both my pain and its relief have been those moments watching the sky. Seeing the clouds knowing the science of why they are so beautiful but still finding extreme comfort imagining the long haired kachina bringing the rain as the cloud people surround him with memories of their past existence. It is in these moments that I come face to face with the pain that is mortality and enjoy my existence more than ever.
I believe meaning is not found on the other side but in truly embracing the smallest of joyful moments today.
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