Between Heaven and Earth
My husband and I fly east a couple of times each year. I always make sure to reserve a window seat so I can peer out and have a view of things that I cannot get any other way. It’s fascinating to look down on the shapes of the earth and mankind’s marks upon them. I have seen the fluorescent blue water in the depths of a huge, raw pit mine, and watched in disbelief as flames leapt wildly toward our plane from thick forest. I’ve been intrigued by the uncompromising white grid of roads laid out across Midwest farmland, and stared in wonder at a blood red river meandering through the dusty green scrub of the desert Southwest. But the most amazing thing I have ever seen occurred one summer night on the way back to Boise.
We were chasing the setting sun but couldn’t quite catch up, and darkness had just surrounded us. I leaned into the window hoping for some stars but not really expecting to see any. As I peered upward I found I could see them, and more and more stars appeared the longer I looked. Then I lowered my gaze to a spectacular scene. There were millions of cold, white stars above and hundreds of warm, yellow lights of a sizeable city below. And between the two was one single, clearly defined cloud within which raged a lightning storm. Jagged streaks of light split the cloud from end to end, infusing it with color. Bursts of hot white and yellow cooled to pink and orange as the lightning’s energy shot through it. The hush on our plane and its steady glide past the cloud served to magnify the frenzy of the storm.
I quickly glanced around and realized that the other passengers had their eyes closed or locked onto their electronics. They were all completely unaware! I felt like I was in a dream – or an episode of The Twilight Zone. On a plane packed with people, this vision was mine alone. It was truly surreal. To dispel the sense of isolation, I elbowed my husband awake so he could share the wonder of the view with me. He got merely a glimpse before I plastered myself to the window again. The scene was completely mesmerizing and I couldn’t keep my eyes away from it. I watched that madly flickering cloud and the pinpoints of light surrounding it until our flight moved us beyond vision.
I witnessed that night something unforgettable – the works of God above and man below, and between them a battle contained in a cloud.