Looking At Both Sides Now

“Rows and flows of angel hair, ice cream castles in the air and, feather canyons everywhere… I’ve looked at clouds that way… “

As a little girl, I used to love that song! Both Sides Now was written by a folk singer from Canada by the name of Roberta Joan Anderson aka Joni Mitchell. I am not sure what I liked most… the poetic rhyme of the words in conjunction with her haunting melody or the confusion she felt about life. In my young heart, I totally agreed with her. Life was confusing and as a young child without a voice or a vocabulary, it was hard to express oneself, let alone be allowed to do so, about adult topics such as divorce, discrimination, and social isolation. In fact, the next lines of her ballad were even more poignant for me than the first; “…but now they only block the sun. They rain and snow on everyone; So many things I would have done, but clouds got in my way”.

Growing up without a Dad was hard.

It wasn’t like he gave me any tangible memories nor did I feel any benefit from his association, but his absence left a definite impression… seething anger. Of course, my brothers and I wanted to grow up in a ‘Leave it to Beaver’ home, like everyone else in our neighborhood or so I imagined, but more than anything, I didn’t want my mother to cry. She cried a lot and the more she cried, the angrier I became. In the still of the night I could hear her sobs while lying in my bed or when certain songs played on the radio… such as Moon River. To this day, I do not like that song despite adoring Andy Williams and his silky, tenor voice.

The phone calls he made to my mother had to be the worst. They always ended in the same way, agony and despair. One day my mother confided in me that my father had remarried. “He has falling in love with another woman” she said, “and his new wife is Nancy”. Nancy! That was my mother’s name. How could he do that to her? And even as weird and twisted as it was to divorce a Nancy and then marry a Nancy, there was more. He also had become a father again. The new baby was a girl and he had named her Sharon, my name, but not just my first name, but the first, middle and the last. My father, her husband had stolen our identities, long before such things were common place. My mother and I didn’t exit any more. We had vanished into oblivion… “But now they only block the sun. They rain and snow on everyone; So many things I would have done, but clouds got in my way”.

I stayed angry at father for about 24 years and when he called me out of the blue wanting to get together, I was dumbfounded. My mother must have given him my phone number. Funny… she never mentioned it… We exchanged about 15 minutes of pleasantries, but our meeting never happened. He died a few years later and in fact, died some months before my mother and with the same kind of cancer. It is odd… with the divorce, his other marriages, and the years that separated them, they were united in death.

Clouds don’t confuse me anymore and I can honestly say I find great comfort in them now. God’s divine presence is revealed to me and to you by clouds. In the Old Testament an event occurred in which God came down to the people on the earth in a bright cloud. He rescued them from an approaching army and “led them on their way out of the wilderness” (Exodus 13: 8). The bible goes on to tell us that God led these people with a pillar of cloud [that] did not leave them (Exodus 13: 22).

Where they were going was into a vast desert without trails or paths, so the way through it was very difficult to find. Too, it being a sandy desert, as soon as a path was made, it was immediately covered over with sand, to be seen no more. The people needed a guide. The people needed God to show them the right path when there was none. The people needed God.

Furthermore, this cloud… the pillar of cloud, was not an ordinary one, but extraordinary, supernatural, and miraculous. It rose upwards towards heaven in the form of a pillar and in the lower part of it, it was more spread out covering the camp for, besides the use of it to show the way through a trackless wilderness, it was a shelter and protection from the scorching heat of the sun where there wasn’t anything to screen them from it.

Isaiah 4: 5-6 tells us, “Then the LORD will cover over the whole site of Mount Zion and over her assemblies with a thick cloud each day…God’s own glory will be like a huge tent that covers everything. It will provide shade from the heat of the sun and a place of shelter and protection from storms and rain”.

God covered these people with his mighty canopy and showed them the way in which they should go. He also did this for me. During my life God has covered me with his loving kindness and tender mercy. He replaced my anger, loneliness, and sadness with joy, peace, and love for him. God became my father. “A Father to the fatherless is he” (Psalms 68:5). Moreover, “he has been my helper” and my guide (Psalms 10: 14).

We need a miraculous pillar of cloud, a canopy of protection to lead and guide us on the way through a vast, trackless desert. We need God. God’s own glory can cover us like a huge canopy. He will be our shelter and protection from storms and rain. He is faithful when others are not. He will not abandon us, but will give us his own identity and become our Father from everlasting to everlasting… He only will dry our tears and take our pain, sadness, loneliness and anger exchanging it for his miraculous peace, joy and love for him. Let God lead you, he awaits, watching from the clouds.

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