I live in the LA basin and along with our air pollution and our drought, we have what is called light pollution.
So let it be known that I never see the stars.
I have to go to Haiti or camping in the Sierras to see any stars at all. I might be able to count ten from my front porch and that’s only because we don’t have any street lamps on our street. I live in old fashioned suburbia, I suppose.
So stars? Nothing.
I can count on one hand the times in my life I’ve been able to view the Milky Way in person. You know, the long arm of glowing silver that can stretch out across the night when one is in a place of clarity. When we can see the billions of stars clustered that together, they shine blushing white.
And maybe you can’t relate. Maybe you live in one of those rare places where your porch is a viewing platform for the great expanse of creation that is the night sky. Maybe you’ve never looked out into a midnight-city sky that glows an unnatural yellow rather than a deep, dark black.
Maybe at your house it’s a star-party every night.
Did you know there are whole groups setting out to protect the dark sky? They want to protect the viewing of stars — our view of the Milky Way? There are groups who are semi-militant about preserving the beauty of darkness so that we can see the beauty of the stars. It seems like a worthy cause, doesn’t it?
It does because it’s an amazing thing.
I’m raising children in a light-polluted place too. When we, on rare occasion, find ourselves driving in the California desert at night out into the mountains and we look into the black, one of the children might say,
“Oh…OH! The stars!!” They notice the sparkling in the night like perhaps it’s supposed to be noticed.
It’s like snow or even rain for them because both are so rare here. Rare but oh, so amazing when we do get to see it. We have to leave the pollution to have any luck at all.
Emerging from the city on nights like those is more than a breath of fresh air. It’s like water or like oxygen. It’s like something you didn’t know you needed until you realized you were starving for it.
In my life, like most of us, I’ve had stretches where I felt like I was step-in-step with our Creator and intervals where I’ve known that I was simply floating nearby but not necessarily with Him. When I find myself in a place where I’m not walking close, at least in my adult years, I’ve stopped beating myself up about it and simply made the changes I need to make to be back in step with Him. I don’t worry about guilt; I just do it differently.
And it’s the pollution, most often. It’s the pollution of daily life’s stresses and worries. It is the everything that happens in the in between of life that can pollute my heart and mind. Even good things like work and media and living can pollute my vision sometimes. It’s oh-so-hard to see the brilliance in life.
But that’s when we need to get away from the pollution. We move away from the light that clouds our vision so we can see the stars that shine. Getting away from the city glow helps everything.
That city glow sure doesn’t feel like pollution, does it? It seems antithetical, to move away from the light to see the Light. But sometimes we need to. Sometimes moving away from what feels like light is a good thing. We didn’t know what we are missing.
So maybe this week you need to take a break. Maybe this week I need to take a break. Maybe we need to schedule into our lives a little respite from the normal so that we can reset, refill and refresh.
So that we can see the stars shine brightly.