Sunday, August 11, 2013

Meteor showers and perspective

Being a night owl comes in handy in only a few circumstances a year: New Year's Eve, late night completion of school projects, and meteor showers.

If you haven't heard, this weekend is when the earth passes through some debris from an old comet, and here's my mostly ignorant grasp of what is happening: as these floating rocks pass through our atmosphere, they burn up and look like shooting stars. That's what we call a meteor shower. And I was more than up for lying on the grass in the backyard at midnight to watch it last night.

We gently dragged the kids out of bed, wrapped them in robes, and huddled them out to the expanse of blankets and sleeping bags my husband and I had laid down on the lawn. Then we all lied on our backs in a tight row like sardines because the breeze was chilly. We faced up at the blackness, and waited. 

But first let me remind you. We now live in Montana, the "Big Sky" state, where I swear the sky is a whole lot bigger than I've ever seen it anywhere. At night, it's also darker than I am used to, coming from the city. Back in Orange County, home to 2 million other folks, the stars, if you can see any, are sparse and they hang flat against a hazy background. It's like a theater set, like a two-dimensional space painted grey and poked with lights in an unnaturally even scatter.

But here in Montana, the black is blacker and the stars are all sizes and vary in brightness. In certain directions, you can see no light BUT the stars. And there is an incredible depth to the sky; some stars are clearly closer than others, big and crisp, while others are fuzzy and tiny and numerous. One gets the real sense that the sky must go on forever, not just side to side, but straight out and away. It's dizzying, actually, when you try to squint your eyes and see as far and as deep as you can see into space.

My husband said, "Oh! I just saw one," when he spotted the first meteor burning up and making a quick thread of light in the blackness. And then my son saw a different one. We called out in rotation for a while like this, each of us scanning the sky for a fraction-of-a-second rush of light. But none of us ever saw the other person's. The sky was so big, and the meteors were so quick. Finally in frustration, my daughter called out, "I wish I could look everywhere at once!"

It was then that I began to take notice of how small a space upon which I could truly focus at any one time. Who knows how many meteors I missed all around me, while I stared at one narrow circle at a time.

At then I thought of God, who knows all the stars by name. Who hung them all carefully in place, and who is able to look everywhere at once. What is overwhelming and dizzying to me is simple and clear and easy to manage for Him.

My vision is so small. Way, way smaller than I even understand. When I say I have an "eternal perspective" on life, on my marriage and my kids and my purpose for being here, I truly am no where near having God's perspective on it all. How could I? I simply have a hazy understanding that there is more going on than meets the eye.

And some of us don't even have that. Some of us think that two-dimensional flat looking stars are all that's out there. What you see is what you get. I'll believe it when I see it. These kinds of sayings come from two-dimensional living, an inability, or perhaps an unwillingness, to look deeper into a situation and wonder - just simply wonder - if there is any other reason things are the way they are.

Let's challenge ourselves this week in this one thing: to look deeper, out and away from ourselves. To squint the eyes of our hearts and peer into the unknown of what God may see that we cannot. And when we see that there's more - way more - than meets the eye, may we TRUST Him.

The Namer of the stars can look everywhere at once. He knows what He's doing. And just because you turned your head for a second and missed them, it doesn't mean there aren't incredible wonders taking place all around you.

He alone stretches out the heavens
    and treads on the waves of the sea.
He is the Maker of the Bear and Orion,
    the Pleiades and the constellations of the south.
He performs wonders that cannot be fathomed,
    miracles that cannot be counted.
Job 9:8-10



  1. Ahhh, Leslie. Always so wise. And what an awesome memory you made for your children last night, I love that. Eric and the kids were in the country camping last night and they each saw a few, too. I know what you mean about the sky looking so different in different places, I would love to visit Montana one day, it looks absolutely beautiful. Happy Sunday!

  2. Love this. Thank you for the reminder, Leslie!

  3. I read this tonight to my kids on the eve before school starts, new jr high & high school for my girls. It was such a great post & so thoughtfully spelled out. I thought it was perfect for us all to hear & we begin so many new things. Thanks friend!