Saturday, August 13, 2011
in love with the sky
The sky and I have had a long relationship. I am a gazer, and when I gaze, I love. I love this earth. I love being alive. I love getting lost in the vastness of mystery above me, and I love being a worshipper of a Creator God who seems to join me with delight while I gaze.
To be a human tied to this earth and yet able to look to the sky anytime I want is like a cosmic life direction. I am heavy on the earth but there is always the upward look calling me. Every day of my life. Doesn't that seem to be guidance, when you think of it? We are bound and yet unbound. We are limited and yet long for transcendence.
And with all that before us every day, calling us to more, we forget to look, to be amazed. We drive past a sunset with our visors down so we aren't bothered with glare. Amazing things happen every day and night in the sky and we mostly don't notice. Someone said, if there was only one sunset in a lifetime we would all stop our lives to look and be astounded. But this sign is so daily that it is ignored. (Maybe that is why a depressed person looks down.)
So yesterday when Steve told me we were in a place in the earth's orbit where a meteor shower will happen, best seen just before dawn, I set my alarm for 4:30. Steve said he would get up with me but that was not possible for him. He does not "do" 4:30 am. But I got up, surprisingly awake, dragged a large quilt and pillow out the middle of my backyard and gazed skyward.
Sirus clouds blocked the view at times but they were moving quickly. As I lay there I became aware of all that I miss. The dew was pushing glorious thick smells of pollen down to the earth and fragrance like gardenias and orchids and lilies pressed into me. One cricket chirped, but within an hour the whole garden was clicking and popping with sound. At about 5:30 I heard the first birdsong, as if the early bird had indeed gotten the worm. Beneath me the ground felt rock hard ... like cement. I felt wonder rise in me that this hard ground could produce everything we need to be alive and sustained. A vibrancy shivered down my spine and embraced all that is me. Morning had broken again, like it had every day for eons, and I was there, aware, in a corner of it, as much a part of life as everything else. My body was simply in life, not older, not with good hair or sore feet. Just alive.
My mind began to travel back to other nights like this. When my kids were small we lived in the far north - FAR north - and I would sometimes get them up from bed to lay on the picnic table in our backyard (the ground was too frozen and cold) in sleeping bags to watch the northern lights make love to the vast blackness of the cosmos. I thought back on the night after Rachel's wedding when, with another family, we laid on a back deck of a prairie farmhouse and watched a meteor shower that could only be rivaled by special effects. For two hours we had non stop fiery coals criss crossing from horizon to horizon, many with long tails and some seeming to fall into the next field. And yes, I once saw a meteor descend like a rocket into a field beside us. I was so sure of what I saw that I went out the next day to try and find it. Likely it was just dust by the time it hit, but the blaze didn't go out until the trees hid it from view.
Part of me is a little sad that science is discovering what everything is about, out there. But what does wisdom literature say? Something like, It is the glory of God to hide and the glory of man to uncover. Even where science triumphs, mystery remains.
When I have a raw experience of nature something happens in me. I lose the time bound limits of my little striving world and become a barefoot soul, part of everything that has been and will be - a living being in a time bound moment. All the deformities of my nature and character and life shrink before the vastness of the all that is. That was last night, outside, with the dew falling on me and all of nature on the move.
Oh yes. I also saw 7 meteors.