As a child, I believed that angels lived in the clouds above us. Remembered reverie calls to me now across the vast expanse of space and time as I am drawn to those hours spent lying on my back in green summer grass, riding in a car as an idle child passenger, or stretching my sight along the vast expanse of ocean to a distant place where the water meets those castles in the sky. Wherever my daydreams caught me, I would invariably find my mind seduced by the clouds. Even now, I still retain a hint of juvenile fascination for the sight of ivory nebulae rising from an impossible foundation of crystalline sky.
But my visions were shattered by my first remembered passage on a airplane. My mother, ever the pillar of generosity, deferred the window seat to me for our flight across the country. The day must have been ripped from a postcard as the crisp, cerulean sky hosted a perfect row of ivory columns hung with golden trails of subdued sunbeams. As we barreled down the runway, my anticipation grew as I felt the plane lift off of the ground and begin to carry me closer to those envisioned palaces and their angelic tenants. My body sank deeply into my seat as the plane tilted sharply into the sky, its nose aimed directly for the billowing clouds. My heart leapt in my chest as we ascended through the atmosphere, the soft white walls of the celestial kingdom drawing ever closer. I held my breath as the plane prepared to enter the heavenly landing as the walls of the kingdom rushed at my window. Suddenly, the blue sky disappeared and we plunged headlong into the heart of the cloud. We had arrived at the threshold of the angels.
My eyes strained at the airplane window, struggling to pierce the impenetrable blanket of grey mist. Disappointment began to wash over me as the moments continued to slip by and those beautiful angels failed to materialize. My heart sank to realize the reality of this grey void where no wings beat time to a divine melody. Try as I might, my eyes failed to discern even the slightest glimmer of gold from an angel's harp. The scene outside my window resembled nothing more exotic than a common dreary fog along the seashore; I nearly expected my father's fishing boat to part the mists with its sonorous, lowing fog horn.
I was lost in morose
reflection at this revealed disappointment when my mother, sensing my distress, gently touched my arm and asked me what was wrong. I turned toward her, ready to lament the lackluster reality of my imagined celestial kingdom where angels sang and beauty reigned. But the words died on my lips as the plane suddenly broke through the upper reaches of the clouds and bright sunlight poured into the cabin. My mother's eyes caught a sunbeam and shimmered like two green emeralds as she lifted her countenance to smile in the sunshine. It was then that I realized that I did not need those seraphic visions to materialize as I saw the angel seated at my side. There is no need for supernatural beings of fancy when we become aware of the angels among us. I smiled back at my mother and assuaged her concern before turning back to the window where a truly marvelous spectacle awaited my eyes.
Here, at the upper reaches of the atmosphere was a sight reserved for those of us fortunate enough to fill an airplane seat. A downy blanket of pure white spread beneath the plane as the sunlight blazed in unhindered glory; the air was so clear that I imagined I could see straight into the vast expanse of the universe. Here I saw the true beauty of lucidity as those formerly seductive clouds now lay beneath me, a simplistic backdrop to the pure elegance of the sunlit sky. My childhood dreams of angels may have been destroyed, but I had gained a wholly new and more valuable perspective. This newfound vista of true, clear beauty was better than anything I could have ever imagined while stuck on the ground staring at the undersides of clouds.
Reason is the airplane that delivers an incomparable view of reality to those of us who choose to take flight. The wonders of the universe are truly magnificent to behold if we can only rise above the alluring artifice of fantasy. We are already surrounded by the fabric of our dreams; it is only a matter of seeing past the clouded fallacy to the true beauty of reality.