A Word from Gareth Thompson

I have a question for you: How is the Oktas where you are?

During the recent school holidays, my wife and I spent some time on the South Coast, at Narooma. For something different, we decided to take a chartered boat trip 9km off the coast to visit Montague Island, where we snorkeled with seals and then did a guided tour of the old lighthouse and island. Before we set sail, we checked the weather conditions in Googleland, as a storm had been forecast and we were concerned the trip might be cancelled. It was then we made a wonderful discovery, the Oktas rating.

Did you know that there is a way of rating the amount of clouds in the sky? Simply look up at the sky, divide the area you can see into eight equal pieces, and estimate how many of those eighths are full of clouds. Now this is where it gets really interesting. Only a perfectly clear sky can be given an Oktas of zero. One single cloud will get the rating to one. Similarly, if there is even one tiny patch of blue above, then the rating is a seven. A rating of eight can only be given if the entire sky if full of clouds. 

What I find amazing is that anyone can do an Oktas rating right where they are at any point in time. So, two people who are geographically close to one another can get very different ratings depending how what fraction of the sky they can see. An Oktas rating depends entirely on your point of view and each person can only see part of the whole.

This is much like all of life. We judge our lives and the lives of others based on what we can see from our point of view. On the other hand, while we only see a fraction, God sees the whole. This reminds me of the unofficial motto of Kuyper Christian School.

There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry: ‘Mine!

Abraham Kuyper, 1880

While we look at our little patch of sky and count the clouds or blue sky that we can see, an all-powerful, all knowing God looks out over everything and declares it as His.

Mind. Blown.

I shared my newfound measuring system with my Year 9 Maths class and now regularly greet them on the verandah outside E1 with, “What’s the Oktas today?” We then spend a little time staring upwards, discussing what fraction of the sky is cloud-covered and estimating the Oktas rating.

What is your Oktas today?

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