I’m standing on my Brooklyn rooftop watching monumental raindrops make a xylophone out of the wooden planks as lightning splits the Manhattan skyline throughout the river of lead. It thunders — a low, drawn-out bellow. Swirling throughout the sky, as if to scrub clear the slate of each day worries, the storm comes down with its existential ablution, booming and complete. I consider Georgia O’Keeffe, who wrote to her finest buddy a century in the past from the dramatic clime of the Southwest: “Final evening we had an amazing thunderstorm — and I’ve by no means seen such lightning in my life — it was great… Stood out on the porch for a very long time watching the entire sky alive.”
Across the identical time, throughout the nation, the Lebanese poet and thinker Kahlil Gibran (January 6, 1883–April 10, 1931) was recording his personal enchantment with mom nature’s most dramatic moods in Beloved Prophet (public library) — the gathering of his virtually unbearably lovely love letters to and from Mary Haskell, which gave us his meditations on America and why artists make artwork.
In a letter from mid-August of 1912, an elated and awestruck Gibran writes to his beloved Haskell from the coast of Massachusetts:
The nice storm, for which I’ve been ready, has simply come. The sky is black. The ocean is white with foam, and the spirits of some unknown gods are flying between the sky and the ocean. I’m watching it as I write… What’s there in a storm that strikes me so? Why am I so a lot better and stronger and extra sure of life whereas a storm is passing? I have no idea, and but I really like a storm extra, way more, than something in nature.
Two years later, he finds his creativeness fomented by a late-winter storm in New York, the place with Haskell’s patronage he has rented a small artwork studio to color:
A mighty snow storm is raging exterior. The studio is good and heat, and a eager need for work is in my soul. A storm frees my coronary heart from little cares and pains. A storm all the time awakens no matter ardour there’s in me. I develop into keen, and search aid in work. I usually image myself residing on a mountain high, in essentially the most stormy nation (not the coldest) on the planet. Is there such a spot? If there’s I shall go to it sometime and switch my coronary heart into photos and poems.
That July, Haskell, who spent her summers in solitude within the mountains of California, mirrors again to Gibran his love of storms. In a letter from mid-July, she writes:
My beloved Kahlil,
I too was within the storm final Sunday — morning and afternoon driving 5 miles every in a tiny open sleigh with an excellent horse — in howling wind and rain — wishing for you and realizing how you’ll find it irresistible. I’m by no means in a storm now with out you.
At all times at the least I’m not with out you — even when all else is obscure or ghastly.
Complement this explicit portion of the wholly gorgeous Beloved Prophet with Coleridge on the storm, the rainbow, and the soul, Maira Kalman and Daniel Handler’s poetic illustrated love letter to the climate, and Annie Dillard’s arresting account of one other show of nature’s grandeur, then savor this uncommonly lovely Japanese illustrated ode to the altering sky.