There are a great many things that are very different for me since I moved from the hectic confines of Baltimore to the quieter, slower paced calm of St. Joseph and the Midwest. There are a great many things, too, that I took for granted when I lived in Baltimore… being able to get anywhere without a car, 24 hour stores not named Walmart, Sub Shops, the ocean (no matter how stinky it might be) oh and of course: Royal Farms fries. But today I’d like to talk a bit about something that my neighbors here in the Midwest take for granted and something for which I am constantly grateful to be able to experience on a regular basis.
The Night’s Sky.
When living in even a small city, the light pollution, while often beautiful especially during a storm, can make the night’s sky seem cold, dark and lightless. I discovered many years ago while in another part of the rural Midwest with my wife and a friend that the night’s sky is not cold, dark, and lightless at all. We were out there for a wedding and our friend Kyle was driving us back to his home where we were staying. It was the middle of summer, but later at night so it was quite dark. Liz asked him to pull over so that we could look at the sky. So that she could share it with me. It was the first time that I had ever seen that starry expanse and experience it in what my limited mind would call “All its Glory.” The stars just kept going and going, and through it all, in between all of the stars, there was this beautiful blue hue. This haze that seemed to me to be the star dust of distant solar systems mingling together and I could only see it in this beautiful way because I was so far away.
I pride myself on having been able to point out constellations in the night’s sky to my peers when I was in high school, or later when I worked as a laborer in this job or that. My fellow students and coworkers did not often look up at the night’s sky. I feel that many in Baltimore and in cities like it don’t often look up and this makes me kind of sad, so I used to take every opportunity I could to point up. More often than not they were unimpressed and often times mockingly so. I could not fathom why they didn’t have a greater sense of wonder at the concept of heavenly bodies. Not until I saw the true night’s sky. See, to a person in a city, even being able to see a constellation isn’t that big a deal ( I suppose) because it’s only a handful of stars in an otherwise pitch black sky. The lights of the city are all around you and in their own way, quite beautiful, so why bother looking up at some tiny pin prick of light that isn’t even that bright anyway? If my peers could see what I had seen those years ago on that stretch of rural country road in Iowa, they might think very differently.
I admit that I do not look up into the true night’s sky as often as I should, or even as often as I’d like. I get distracted with this or that human endeavor — video games, tv series, trying to write a book — and I miss the natural beauty that is above is at all times. Every once in a while I ask my wife to drive me out into the middle of nowhere, so that we both can spend an hour or so just looking up. I encourage any you to do this, too. Even if it is difficult, find a way to get out past the lights of the metropolitan world, a way to escape the constant pull of the day-to-day hum drum of being human, and look up. It will be good for your soul.
What does the night’s sky look like where you are?
Do you see the stars? Do you see the darkness? Do you see neither? Share your wisdom. Tell me your experiences and thoughts in the comment below. Thank you for reading and as always, have a wonderful day.