I am accustomed to squint on eastward morning drives, but today the sun’s glare is diffused by a few stratus clouds. I can still track its otherwise invisible climb, though, as it illuminates the clouds’ crystals of ice in a blindingly garish display of refraction. The illuminated area of the sky is too bright to stare at, irregularly shaped, and about 3 degrees (6 moon-widths) across. I assume the sun is directly behind it. But refraction usually doesn’t work that way. (Think of viewing a fish at an angle through the surface of a pond.) So I should not be surprised, but I am, when I notice the sun’s much dimmer but clearly defined pale disk—exactly the same size as a full moon—filter through the slightly darker region of clouds a little higher than the shimmering, refracting, glaring patch which originally arrested my vision.

“Lord, you have been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God” (Psalm 90). Moses uses mountains and the earth itself as diminutive, temporal foils against God’s eternity. The things of creation are so plainly visible that they can sometimes hide what they ought to remind us of. In scripture, golden calves, rooftop baths, attacking armies, even ordained feasts and sacrifices can be glaring distractions from the God ruling above and behind them all.

A few minutes further into my drive and the clouds have vanished. All that remains beyond clear blue sky is the sun, so bright now that it is impossible to look directly at it. Of course, the sun did not change. The clouds changed. My focus changed. But the sun is exactly as it was—exactly as it will be when mountains and mighty men have evaporated into clear sky.

This week, may we remember the ruling light above and beyond every wispy refraction, regardless of the glare—the light that will still shine even when the sun itself has vanished.