Eight years ago in a orange Australian desert I had the blessed opportunity of seeing the night sky with no light pollution for hundreds of miles in every direction. In chorus with all those who have shared this experience, there is nothing quite like it. The sheer immensity and glory which flutters down from countless spots of light. The little dots are so thick in some spaces so as to seem like a dazzling blanket covering an enormous space, sometimes thicker, sometimes thinner, containing an incredible variety of colours. Words will never do justice…
It is so often described how this experience makes a person feel small. I shall endeavour to take exactly the opposite route.
Consider this quote: “For what will it profit someone, if they gain the whole world and forfeit their life?”
What is implied by this quotation?
The word life here implies what is eternal, for, sorry to say it, no one gets out of this life alive. A synonymous word, in that case, would be soul, our life that is eternal. Thus, the meaning implicitly is that one human soul is more valuable than all known existence.
It means that all the stars, the heavens, the galaxies that surround us are lesser in value than the soul of one person.
What then should a person feel when they gaze up at the unfathomable sky?
They should feel big! not small.
For all that exists, in its glory and its beauty, is still less than that of the soul. Thus, by gazing at those brilliant stars, I should realise that within me, what is me, is even more vast, grand, and profound.
Just like the stars, this grandeur demands a response simply by its very magnitude. When I gaze into the sky on a dark night, I cannot help but be blown away, to stand back and admire. This is exactly the same response that should be natural when we gaze upon our friends, our brothers and sisters, our parents, even the strangers who pass by uneventfully on the bus or the train.
The fact is, however, that is not our natural reaction. For we do not see the soul first, but the wounds, the needs, the depressions, and anxieties.
If the eyes are to see clearly they need the right filter, the right prescription.
It is in the silence, in the chasms of my own soul where shines the gems the most brilliant because they are not adorned by myself. It is what is greater than us, from which comes our universe in all its beauty, that furnishes such beauty.
It is there, but it is only found in silence.
Just as the distraction of telephone, work, internet, and the all the rest can prevent us from ever venturing out into the dark places where the stars can actually be seen, so too the adventure inwards can only be achieved through silence.
Every time I make the time to leave the city, to shut off my phone, and to embrace the adventure of unplugging, I am always grateful that I did it. So it is with prayer, with meditation with the journey inward that is worth so much more than a night under the stars.
Why not start today, and search out the bright lights within?