I have lived on the South Dakota prairie my entire life. We used to be called the Sunshine State but are now called the Mount Rushmore State. Weeks like this help me to understand that bold decision of our state legislature in 1992. (wink, wink)
I tire of these days where I can’t see a horizon line. The white of the sky melds seamlessly into the white of the snow covered roads, cornfields, groves and rooftops. I realize how much I depend on the horizon line to give me perspective.
During my childhood days growing up in rural Turner County it seemed that every summer evening around 8:30 I would jump on my Schwinn bicycle (well, let’s clarify, it was not mine, it was a hand me down from my sister, but I won’t dwell on that). I would set off down the gravel driveway of our farm, turn right for a quarter mile, and then head one mile east on the “oil road.” Soon the whir of my bike chain would be in rhythm with the buzz of the crickets. My destination was the intersection just a mile or so from our farm. Before turning back towards home I would pause and take in the 360 degree view. I could see the rolling hills of Turkey Ridge beyond the Nelson place farm to the southwest. I could see the crops and the cattle and the barns and the silos of our neighbors’ farms and likely name each person living in each house, and possibly their birthdays. The contrasting smells of freshly cut hay or newly spread manure determined my length of stay. The horizon line was sharp, the sky was blue, and the sun was, well, you can imagine, getting ready for its daily painting. I don’t know how many miles I could see but that stretch of Turner County is fairly flat. The sky was literally the limit.
It gave me perspective.
So, a 15 second Google search yields these definitions of perspective, which I really like:
1. the art of drawing solid objects on a two-dimensional surface so as to give the right impression of their height, width, depth, and position in relation to each other when viewed from a particular point.
2. a particular attitude toward or way of regarding something; a point of view.
3. true understanding of the relative importance of things; a sense of proportion.
If you were to see me draw, you would know that I haven’t mastered #1, #2 is a gimme, and I do feel like I am gaining on #3, sometimes.
Honestly, I may have peaked out on #3 on Friday evening, June 25th, 1976 around 7:00. That was the day when I was 16 and my mom died. I can recall with great clarity walking outside the hospital and looking up at the sky. It was clear blue. It was nearing time for my bike ride.
Years later I was asked by one of my nursing mentors to describe a moment in time that defined me. I described that June evening in 1976. She then asked what I learned from it, I immediately responded, “Perspective.”
As I write this post, I am not surprised that as I glance out my kitchen window there is a clearing in today’s white overcast winter cover. It is being replaced by a beautiful blue sky and punctuated by a boldly shining sun.
No matter how we find it, my hope for today is that we all have a “true understanding of the relative importance of things; a sense of proportion.”
So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:18
PS: As I look at this photo of today’s blue sky an old song popped into my head that you may know, “Crystal Blue Persuasion.” You can listen to it and read the fascinating story about it here. I can picture my 10 year old self riding down our gravel road with this song in my head. How about you?