Stargazing has seemed to me to be a gift in terms of offering
moments of quiet meditation, when my mental swirl of restless
grasping dissipates, and I feel an accompanying quiet Presence.
perhaps? If it isn’t, these moments connect well with the
new cosmology story. When we are conscious of our own being, and
feel our connection with the rest of the cosmos, we leave the
illusion that we live in a separate entity called “me”.
We touch something that mystics call the Observing Self, which
is Spirit. Perhaps realizing that our physical bodies ultimately
came from the death of stars (the implosion of stars can create
complex, life-creating atoms such as carbon and oxygen) gives
one pause towards the same truth?
Andrew Cohen says:
When one goes beyond the separate ego, one has the experience
of being touched by a vision. It's a vision of the context
in which all of this is occurring. It's glorious. And the
context itself is inherently ethical and inherently moral
and inherently good, but to a degree that's almost impossible
to put into words.
The Psalmist says it better: “When I consider your heavens,
the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have
set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son
of man that you care for him?” and “Praise him, sun
and moon, praise him, all you shining stars.”
The stars in the turning sky, after all, are not “mine”
but God’s. They are poems that reflect God’s love
and playfulness in creation. As integral parts of an evolving
universe, they reflect the freedom that God has granted the natural
order so that real love and relationship are possible.
If and when I accept this truth wholeheartedly, however difficult,
I can enter my life refreshed in the fact that even without knowing
story in all its details, my life is part of a larger spiritual
story, and I can attend to the concerns of my life with creativity,
courage and love. The inner expansiveness that I feel when I look
at the night sky can be an inspiration for me to trust God, and
trust the image of God in others. On the other face, when I try
to grasp onto a mental egoic image of myself that is inherently
defensive and separate, I’ve lost touch with the flow of
Spirit that animates both me and the rest of the cosmos.
As a theologian recently said most poignantly about the enjoyment
of all things in nature: “The allurement provides subjective
motive power to explore more to love more broadly and to enter
the mystery with integrity.”
Knowing something about the orbital dynamics of the planets does
not make me a more loving person but perhaps the calming allurement
of stargazing can steer me towards meditating on spiritual truths.
In fact, don’t the heavens seem to embody symbols of enduring
spiritual truths? For instance, the moon, which sometimes appears
to my shaky mind that it might wander off from its orbit and cause
unimaginable chaos, has patiently been attracted to the “mother
ship” for four billion years, and is likely to be still
orbiting the earth for another four billion! Isn’t this
a great example of God’s patience towards us? Knowing that
our internal psychological spirals are reflected in the external
celestial spirals can
reassure us that we are still on course, even if things seem like
they are falling apart.
If God as he is revealed in Christ the human one, penetrates
creation yet exists beyond it as well, cares and loves the cosmos,
we can feel accepted and forgiven. Appreciating the awesomeness
of the Milky Way can awaken a sense of awe and wonder beyond words.
Awe that the Ground of Being is continuing to use the process
of evolution to create a new. And that we are somehow co-creators,
in solidarity with the One who created all we know!
In my normal daily life, my wonder at the miracle of God’s
creation often fades. The inner demanding demon of the mundane,
the routine and the predictably mediocre, can seem to reach inside
and squelch the reverence, the flow of the Spirit. Yet thankfully
there is an ever-available choice for me to accept God’s
pursuit of a different way.
Do I feel alone and small knowing about the vastness and often
incomprehensibility of cosmic space? Albert Einstein said that
everyone someday has to choose whether the universe they live
in is ultimately friendly or hostile. Perhaps the answer depends
on our state or stage of faith, whether I’m self-obsessed
or open to trusting God in Christ. When I’m frantically
focusing on what I think I have to do, the universe seems small
and unfriendly. Yet, when I’m connected to my heart, perhaps
inspired by the sight of the stars, the universe is not at all
hostile, but a mystery filled with God’s unfolding Love,
not disconnected in any way from my own essence!
Controlled nuclear reactions that produce spectacular photons
of energy, stars are all about shining a lot of light in all directions
in the darkness. The question continues, will I let the Light
shine in the darkness in me too?