Oklahoma Sky

For Margie

Philippians 4:8 says “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.” So here’s some things to think on, if I can do them service:

Each time I come back to Oklahoma, I get a new welcome sign to remind me of
how wonderful it is to live in a place like this. Last summer, I knew I was home when i hit the border just in time for a perfect sunset. The land had just reached that place where it is perfectly flat and there were only a few clouds in the sky. I was hit with this 270º array of bright oranges and reds. It was heaven.

This Christmas, I got to Oklahoma at about 11:30. I missed the sunset I really was hoping to see. What’s more, all the way through Arkansas there was a horrible cloud cover and storms and ice. It wasn’t very pleasant. The sky was completely overcast the entire time.
That night the sunset that I was expecting never came at all. When I hit Oklahoma, though, a miraculous thing happened. The sky suddenly cleared up and, for once, the
wind died down. I was driving I-40, almost to the Muskogee turnpike, about an hour away from home, when I looked up and saw the sky. It was the clearest sky I had ever seen. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky. The only lights on earth that I could see came from an occasional passing car, and there weren’t many.

For probably the second time in my life I realized exactly why the Greeks called it the Milky Way. That sky was positively infested with stars. You almost couldn’t see the space between them. My favorite constellation, Orion, was just outside my window. I hadn’t realized he was that large. He seemed to take up a full eighth of the sky. And he
was apparently so happy to see me that he was standing on his head. The lighter parts of him, like the club in one hand and the slain animal in the other, I could see with a
clarity I don’t think I ever had before. I almost imagined I could see what animal it was that he had captured. I resolved that, when I reached the turnpike, I would get out and take a few minutes enjoying the view.

About 20 minutes later, I finally passed the turn on to the turnpike. I drove another quarter of a mile, stopped the car, turned the emergency lights on, and stepped outside. I waved at the semi truck and two cars that passed me. They were probably wondering what was wrong with my car that would send me outside in the cold, looking at the
sky. They probably never guessed that it was the sky, and not the car, that drove me out. By this time, the wind had picked up a little bit and was blowing a biting chill, but I barely noticed it. Those stars were too beautiful. What I did notice was that my eyes were watering. I had left my glasses on so I could get the full effect of the view, and normally the glasses would have blocked most of the wind coming at me, the same as my windshield, but I was looking straight up, so the wind was blowing directly into my eyes.
I wish I could say it was the beauty of the moment that was causing me to cry, but it was a chilled wind that blurred my vision and finally forced me back into the safety of the car. But, for that five or ten minutes, what a sight! I suddenly wished that I had studied more astronomy. That star up there that looks out of place, do you think that maybe that’s a planet? No, I was told that planets aren’t supposed to twinkle. Where’s the Big Dipper? Which one is the North Star? Maybe if I just stood here and waited to see which way the stars are moving…

I sat in the quiet of the car for a few minutes while my vision cleared, and then while my now fogged glasses also cleared. The only sound I could hear was the momentary passing of a few cars. It was a beautiful night. Then I started up the car and headed on. Within a mile or two, I began to see the first man made lights again, sitting on top of silos
and far distant radio towers. A few miles more and I began to see the first glow of the city on the horizon. By the time I got to Broken Arrow, the sky had clouded, civilization had taken the landscape, and my moment was gone. But Oklahoma had once again kept her appointment with me at the border. This time she had sent the stars to welcome me home.

Author: KB French

Formerly many things, including theology student, mime, jr. high Latin teacher, and Army logistics officer. Currently in the National Guard, and employed as a civilian... somewhere

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