The Past Lies Above Us

Did you know that when we look at the stars, we are actually looking back in time? That’s right – back in time. Literally, the past is visible above us.

How is this possible? Well, the speed of light is a finite, measurable thing. It takes a defined amount of time (light-years) for the light reflecting off or from a large object in space to reach our eyes. So, the light we are looking at in tonight’s sky started its journey to our eyes quite a long time ago. In effect, we aren’t seeing the object as it currently is; we are seeing it as it was at the time the light started its journey. In the case of Proxima Centauri, which is the closest star to us other than our own sun, it is about four light-years away. So, the light we see tonight left the star four years ago.

Gazing into the nighttime sky is amazing! There is no other view on earth that is so infinite and vast, and there’s no better place to view it in my world than from the end of my dock or in the middle of the lake. Here, there are no earthly lights to dim my view or objects to obscure its immensity.

In the unobscured sky by my lake home, I’ve seen falling stars no bigger than a small comma that streaked through the sky in the blink of an eye. I’ve seen larger, brighter objects that have actually made me brace myself – waiting for the earth to shake once they disappeared below the horizon. I have also seen large, very bright objects seem to shatter after hitting what appeared to be an invisible force-field causing part of the object to disappear while hurling other parts back towards whence they came. Catching a rare glimpse of these events is incredible.

While stargazing, I always seem to wonder if people in the metro areas get to experience this wonderland, or if they are blinded to it by the lights of the city and the forms of the buildings around them. (Ego and pride, I ponder, must be much like the city lights and structures which blind us to the reality of how really small we are in this vast universe.) When I’ve been in the city, the only lights I notice are those of passing cars, lights in and around buildings, or on the never-ending stream of planes landing and taking off.

The fact that I am looking into the past when stargazing was astounding to me when I first realized it. That’s also what makes it the perfect time and place for me to meditate and reflect. In this fast-paced, instant-response world, it’s healthy to unplug and reflect upon the day or the week. Powerful insights into life may pass through your mind during times of quiet meditation. Take the time to slow down, breathe, and lose yourself in the immensity of a clear nighttime sky. In it, the past and present collide, and the presence of God awaits us.

ENVIRONMENTAL WELLNESS – Go green! Include nature in your life: get a pet, plant a garden, visit local parks and walking trails, and make sure that the indoor environment you live and work in is healthy.

SPIRITUAL WELLNESS – Connect with your spirit! Use ways that are meaningful to you: whether that’s through your place of worship, prayer, or meditation.

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