Stunning and Staggering – Look Up

Just about every time I go outside, I am quick to check the sky to see what I can see. Year after year I watch the planets, study the stars, and read up on the research and discoveries going on in our science culture. Some people go to nightclubs to have a good time, others to a play or a concert, but for me the planetarium or observatory is where I want to be. Which of you hasn’t at some time been outside at night and been stopped in your tracks at the sudden, almost frightening presence of 10,000 stars glowing above?

There is something stunning about that sky…

My home has a skylight in the dining room through which I see a small patch of sky – and believe me I check it each time I walk by. Many times I catch sight of a proud planet as it passes through the view from the dinner table. Just now as I was walking through and checked the skylight, I was stopped cold by the glory of Venus, high in the dusky blue sky. No matter how many times I see them, I am shocked at the sight of the planets. I can really see that thing right now? I like to point them out to anyone I happen to be with – even on a ski lift last year with a couple of strangers – teenage boys who were chatting about some earthly thing. As we rose through the cold, cozy evergreens dressed in their white trim, I caught sight through the trees of beautiful Jupiter, and I knew I just had to share it with someone. The 2 teenage boys sitting next to me were all I had, haha…

Abruptly I interrupted their conversation;

You see that there?

I pointed through the trees at the sky. They looked at me, confused.

No, no… there!

I strained my finger toward the sky and tipped my eyes upward to the gleaming gas diamond. They slowly turned to look.

Know what that is?

They did not.

That’s Jupiter. Isn’t it incredible?

They snorted in what might have been an attempt at a polite acknowledgment. One of them made an effort,

You into astromony?

I sighed and thought to myself “yes, waaay into astroMONY… and spelling too.”

Yeah man, it’s totally fascinating,

I said, a bit sad for the state of public education. The conversation petered out with another polite mumble into their scarves, and the lift ride ended without incident as we parted ways.

And I have to think – how do I interpret my passion and fascination with the cosmic ceiling around us? Why is it that we don’t all act like my ski-liftmates and simply glance with a polite mumble? Aren’t you awed by the stars? What is it about that astromony stuff that captures our affections and brings up an overwhelming need to share it with someone?

Is it that we share something powerful and comforting when 2 people feel the same sense of smallness, yet feel it together while looking into space? Is it just mere intellectual stimulation? What is it?

Unfathomable

If you have been walking in a dark place in this life, the stars will not fix your troubles, but I do encourage you to get a breath of cold, cleansing air tonight. If there are no clouds, get outside and take a walk. Look up as much as you can without falling into a ditch, and let your mind think deeply about the stunning, staggering cosmos… and the wonder of the fact that you get to be here and see it.

Thanks for reading,

-Justin

Categories: Meaning Woven into Nature | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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2 thoughts on “Stunning and Staggering – Look Up

  1. I’ve only been in one place between NY and Canada when I was growing up that was incredible for watching the stars. I miss that.

  2. I spent a summer in Yellowstone NP, where the brightest man made light is when someone farts into a campfire. I saw a moonless, cloudless night sky there which will be forever burned into my memory as one of the most stunning, staggering sights of my life. It was so clear I’m sure I could’ve counted by naked eye the distance in centimeters to the next galaxy.

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