Looking out the airplane window yesterday, I looked down on puffy white clouds reflecting sunlight and casting hand shadow puppets on the ground. I thought about the difference in perspective, depending on whether I was above or below the clouds. From the plane, there was only beauty, but I remembered days of being below the clouds. Some hot days as I weeded my flowerbeds, I welcomed the cool relief as a cloud passed across the blazing sun. Other days, the cloud was ominous, bringing fear or unrelieved sadness as Hurricane Katrina or weeks of rainy days passed over.

I thought, “There’s got to be a blog in here somewhere.” I took out my camera and got a grainy picture. I did not know the occasion to use it would come so soon.

This morning’s email brought news that a friend and her family are with her mother as she makes the passage from this life to the next. This will be the second friend who has lost her mother in recent days. In my own family, I have lost a brother-in-law and sister-in-law this summer. All of these, on this side of the cloud, fought health issues valiantly and clung tenaciously to life far past their allotted threescore years and ten. In their lives, they experienced both sunshine and dark clouds. Paradoxically, even while fighting for life, they have looked in faith to the beauty on the other side.

When my father died, my principal in both sympathy and wisdom said, “Death is a part of life.” Its cloud comes to us all.

For all those who mourn the passage of these and other loved ones, my hope would be that in their own lives they will find consolation in remembered words of love and wisdom that cast a welcomed shadow in their own cloudy days of despair, a shade in the heat of their battles, and that they will  find comfort in the knowledge that those who have gone before have a new perspective from the other side that sees only the beauty.