E. Herman has long been my spiritual guide. She is the author of several books: Creative Prayer, The Secret Garden of the Soul, The Finding of the Cross, and my favorite, The Touch of God. Though she died many years ago, she speaks to me still through the written word.
In The Touch of God, there is a chapter titled “The Chariots of God.” Herman begins with this line: “Human life is as a cloudy day.” Blue skies turn grey when the clouds come. Grey skies turn dark when the storm clouds hide the sun. Even on bright days there are always little clouds appearing on the horizon, clouds that we sense are harbingers of trouble. Disappointment, loss, bereavement, perplexity spiritual despondency, and the emotional turmoil of our lives are as clouds. When these clouds come, and they come to all of us, our spirits become darkened with doubt. When the clouds come we wonder if life is nothing more than a cruel riddle. Like Job of old, we ask why this cloud or that cloud hovers over us and diminishes the light (life). Why do the clouds come? Wrong question, says Herman: “Human life is as a cloudy day.”
The clouds are as natural as the light. They are not something foreign or intrusive. Clouds are in every sky—yours and mine. That’s life. There is nothing we can do, we say, except wait until the clouds roll by. Or we say, every cloud has a silver lining and we’ll be able to look back and see the meaning of it all when the clouds are gone. But we all know that when the present cloud cover moves away, there will be more clouds to come. That’s life. “Human life is as a cloudy day.”
Herman says, the clouds are the chariots of God, just as the blue skies are the chariots of God. All of life is where God is—in the clouds, in the sunlight, in the good and in the bad, in the pleasant times and in the sad times. The Hebrews, escaping their bondage in Egypt, were led by a cloud—by day and by night. So we must accept the clouds that darken our skies, live with them and be led by them.
We must live with the clouds and let the clouds lead us and speak to us. The Psalmist (4:1) declares, “Thou hast enlarged me when I was in distress”—not after I have passed through distress, but in the midst of it. I take the liberty to paraphrase the Psalmist’s experience: Thou has enlarged me in the midst of the clouds, not after they have passed by. Love abides—in the sunlight, in the clouds—Love is at the heart of things.