Today’s Word from Pastor Jim…
“The heavens declare the glory of God,
and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.” Psalm 19:1
It was sometime during our four-hour technical hike in the wilds of Snow Canyon State Park in Utah that the thought occurred to us. As we descended into lava tubes, climbed petrified sand dunes, trudged through desert sands and over ancient lava flows, we could not help but wonder about the Mojave Desert at night. Wiping the sweat from our brows, our journey near the end under a bright blue cloudless sky, we crested the final sandstone rock formations as lizards scurried past our feet. Intoxicated by nature we made the decision to return to the park in the darkest part of the night. Our walking sticks were in the car, we refilled our water bottles and entered the visitor center to seek the advice of the park ranger.
A dip in the hot tub, a short nap in the sun and a simple dinner followed as we waited, waited for the inevitable return of darkness. The sun would set at 7:32 pm but the window to experience the park in lightless silence was quite exact; 9 pm to midnight. It was critical to arrive at the north end of Snow Canyon before the moon crested the mountains. The drive outside of Saint George passed the usual shopping centers, gas stations and mobile home parks. It took about 20 minutes for the lights and signs of civilization to disappear. Entering the park, the darkness was striking. I turned on my high beams as advised, keeping an eye out for nocturnal desert wildlife. Deeper and deeper into the park we drove. The Toyota Rav4 strained as the elevation took us higher into the blackness of the night. When we stopped on the side of the road and turned off the lights of the car, there were no shades of darkness, we could not even see our hands in front of our faces.
Our journey now complete, we exited the car and glanced toward the heavens. The sky, the empty blue expanse that had presented itself during the day, was now displaying it’s glory in the darkness of the night. The heavens were alive, planets revealed themselves to the naked eye, and behind them bright points of light too numerous to count. We had never experienced anything quite like it. The Milky Way stretched out above us, the light of a billion stars merged to form a river of milky white. On the horizon the Big Dipper entered the star-scape, so large and clear that one would think that they could grab it. Shooting stars raced silently by, the rotating earth offered an ever changing canvas of wonder, and the light that had travelled 186,000 miles per second for thousands of years met the eyes of two simple awestruck humans.
As Felicia and I looked at each other, the problems in Washington DC, ferry schedules, church budgets, cars and clothes all seemed insignificant, and we knew would leave no ink on the pages of history. Felicia took my hand and said, “We are so small.” And as if choregraphed by the stars above we both said at the same time, “We are not alone.”
Our faith renewed, our place in creation affirmed, we drove back, closed our eyes and rested in anticipation of another day.