When I was in my early teen years one day I stayed home from high school because I was unwell. Sometime in the mid afternoon of that day my mother came to rouse me from my sleep, saying ‘Helen! Hurry! Come and look at the sky!’
Now my mother was not an overly dramatic woman. She was not in the habit of promoting communing with the wonders of nature either. So I was quite curious as to what would create this level of excitement, exhilaration and urgency in her. So I followed her dutifully and then for long moments, we both stood in the lounge, looking out the window, transfixed by the sight that had precipitated her unusual request.
There, in the sky, looming large and ominous, was the most perfect cloud formation I had ever seen, or have ever seen since. Without a hint of exaggeration I can report I remember it to this day, and that it was the most perfectly formed image of the god Poseidon – as depicted in ancient statues – that I could ever imagine. This wasn’t one of those ‘squint slightly and lean to the right and you might make out something vaguely approximately something other than just cloud’. Oh no. This was without fault, without ragged cloud edges, fully intact. His flowing beard, eyes like perfectly formed alabaster, outstretched arms dramatically encompassing the scope of his sight below.
We lamented not having a camera to hand to record this image. We knew no-one would fully believe us or recognise the sheer strangeness of what we were seeing. We stood in awe until, over time, the image started to break apart and waft away on the wind. Dis-assembling the god as he retired to his celestial realms.
Two days later the outskirts of our coastal town flooded. To this day I remember how I knew from this how ancient tribes believed in gods and omens. A flood following the visitation of the god of the sea…..
While my secular, sceptical mind might think that this was a coincidence – albeit a magnificent and artistic one –the other side of me still dissents. And vehemently.
Every time a major storm hits, lightening crackling and splitting the sky with marvellous illumination, or thunder rolls a deep, bass note across the land like a god clearing his or her throat, I know that sense of the more, the numinous, the spirit.
I feel the ‘intelligence’ lurking behind the majesty. A sly, shy presence that need not proclaim or prove its existence beyond this pageantry. That is enough. I commune with my forebears in this terrible, wonderful mystery. And I dream.
(c) Helen Valentina 2013, All Rights Reserved