How often do you look at the stars? I used to spend a considerable amount of time beneath their splendor. Combine that I lived in the country for several years (where light pollution doesn't ruin the view), I used to stay up so much later than I do now, and I spent endless hours driving between friends houses and driving home at night from friends houses; I think I've spent a good portion of my life under the speckled black canopy.
Looking up into the endless darkness spotted with those tiny bright dots is always awe inspiring. It makes me feel smaller and so much grander all at once. Countless people have written about the stars, paintings, photographs; artists have been trying to trap the memorizing beauty and grandness of the night's sky forever. We don't often have a clear sky in Michigan. In fact we have upwards of 90 percent cloud cover during all of the winter months. Last year they reported 94% cloud cover all winter long. That means that we only saw the sun and sky peaking through 6% of the time last winter.
Yesterday when leaving for work there was a perfectly clear star speckled sky overhead. I only had a few minutes to stop and marvel at it. My neighbors always have all of their outside lights on (it's weird). There are street lights just a few houses away at each corner... I could see the stars as I left for work and they were beautiful but it's not the same just glancing up at them while I leave for work at 5
am. I am writing this post as an encouragement for myself to get in some really good, purposed stargazing time before the end of fall.
You know that feeling when you stand at the edge of an ocean or look out onto the horizon from the top of a mountain? You feel like you're looking at something enormous, that you can see farther then you've ever seen before. Something so very much bigger than yourself if passing before your sight. I think the night sky, uninhibited by clouds beats both of those views, despite it's simplicity, despite it's being present each night (however, visible less often). Looking into the stars not only means one is looking billions of miles away (when can we ever claim that) but we're also looking into the past. One star is sending light from from five years ago. Looking at that one bright dot means looking five years into the past. Five years ago when my son was an infant, five years ago when my husband and I were at different jobs, when people who were still alive but are no longer, that light was just given off. Other stars are shining that was first given off 20 years ago, 50 years ago, 450 years ago. Light from when your mother was first born, your grandfather, during world war II and all the horrors, during the highlight of the Roman empire, and when Jesus walked the earth. Anything you may have read in history book. It's all in the star light. Standing beneath a clear night sky, right now, in this moment, light from all over history is showering down upon us.
It's not quite like looking at a fabulously old tree or a piece of stone that may be millions of years old. Viewing light from the stars is actually like looking into the past. The very same light you and I see from each of the different stars is the light that was given off by that star however many years ago. It's literally like looking back in time. I don't think most people stand before a clear brilliant night sky and think to themselves, "wow, I'm looking at history," but I think most of us can feel it. Without thoughts, without words, stargazing is still just as powerful an experience.