Week Two: Thursday
“If the stars should appear one night in a thousand years, how would men believe and adore; and preserve for many generations the remembrance of the city of God which had been shown! But every night come out these envoys of beauty, and light the universe with their admonishing smile.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
In this winter season when the sun sets before 5 pm here in the Southeastern USA, I recall this startling quotation. What if the stars indeed only came out once in a thousand years? Can you imagine how it would feel to be the honored person whose days of life included that one spectacular, holy night, that one sacred, star-filled, sight, and how awesome, magical, magnificent, wonder-filled that night sky would appear? How could you ever be the same again? How could you ever quit talking about that experience?
Yet, how often do we think to look up? That very same miracle is above us. Yes, city lights obscure the stars, and we are often in a rush to get out of the house and then back into the house, without a glance upwards. Or it’s too cold. Or too hot. Or too windy or rainy. Mostly, we just never think about the stars, but what if they all simply disappeared? Would we even notice?
If this winter/Advent season is about anything, surely it is about stars, lights that shine on in the darkness, whether there is pandemic, war, division, hatred, injustice, poverty, a dying earth. Throughout history, stars have been the useful tools of navigation, for ships on the water to wise men in the desert. Stars are metaphors for the Creator’s constancy, the Universe’s presence. The stars still shine—even now, especially now–and it is in their faithful shining that we, too, can find our faithfulness, our assurance, our hope for our own glowing. Looking up is where we reconnect with wonder and with childlike trust.
Here are just a few verses about the stars from ancient guides. The stars invite you to read them, and then go outside tonight. Blessings to you.
“God writes the Gospel not in the Bible alone, but also on trees, and in the flowers and clouds and stars.” Martin Luther
“When you come upon a path that brings benefit and happiness to all, follow this course
as the moon journeys through the stars.” Buddha
“Look up into the heavens. Who created all the stars? He brings them out like an army, one after another, calling each by its name. Because of his great power and incomparable strength, not a single one is missing.” Isaiah 40:26-27
“He heals the brokenhearted and bandages their wounds. He counts the stars and calls them all by name. ” Psalm 147:3-5
“When I look at the night sky and see the work of your fingers— the moon and the stars you set in place— what are mere mortals that you should think about them, human beings that you should care for them? Yet you made them only a little lower than God and crowned them with glory and honor.” Psalm 8:3-5
“Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” Matt 2:2