I live and have always lived in a suburban area. The closest thing to nature is the park across the street, where the “pond” is a disgusting diarrhea green color polluted with some nasty little “swimmers” according to my Chemistry teacher. The ducks just stand around waiting to attack people and leech off their food. Yes, that is my exposure to being out in the “open air.” And so, nature was left to my running thoughts, imagination, and images shown in storybooks and TV shows.
When I was little, my drawings of the night sky would consist of eight or so small stars sprinkled on a navy blue background, and they still do. However, in third grade I encountered my first introduction to astronomy with a tri-fold board presentation of the planet Jupiter. That Christmas, I asked for a telescope and got one. But, a devastating disappointment awaited me. I saw about 4 sparkles in the sky, one of which turned out to be an airplane. The new telescope had nothing worthy of even glancing at. And thus, the telescope sits in my garage collecting dust and my dreams of the night sky disappeared. In sixth grade, as a California Young Reader we had to read the book, Every Soul a Star which I guess was interesting enough. The story followed three teens and their encounter at a campsite where people gathered to watch an eclipse of the sun. It fueled my imagination of more than four stars being seen in the night sky and so I really wished to see them. In eighth grade, I attended outdoor science camp (which I did not like) and they had plans for being able to look at the stars. In a sad turn of events, it was cloudy that day. Fantastic. It wasn’t until the summer of my freshman year did I get to experience such a marvelous sight. The opportunity came up for a mission trip to the Navajo Reservation in northeast Arizona. There, we would face a hot climate and high elevation. One of the things I heard about was the beautiful night sky so full of stars, and I was excited to be able to finally get a glimpse of something so grand. However, days passed by as I missed my chance. I was left with my pastor’s description, “If you make a square with your fingers and tried to count the stars in the them, you wouldn’t even be able to.” Until finally, the day came where many of us came out to look at the stars. We walked stood in a darkened area of the camp behind the old church building and just looked up. To my wondrous amazement, I saw a sight that reached beyond my imaginations. The stars were abundantly overflowing and twinkling all around the night sky. It was breathtakingly beautiful seeing the spacious area covered by so many dots and dashes of all shapes and sizes. The picture above doesn’t even come close to the real deal. The twinkle and sparkle will never be able to be caught on camera. It was like I was enclosed in a glass dome and someone covered it with sheet of black paper and spilled glitter on it. Although I was challenged by the heat and lack of oxygen during the day, I have never been so grateful for it that night. The cool night air brushed against me and the high elevation made me feel as though I could touch the stars if I reached out my hand. It became a “permanence of nature” imprinted into my mind and soul.And I am but one person, on this one planet, surrounding this one star, when now I notice the hundreds of thousands of others. Then my own world became smaller, so much smaller than even possible compared to the vast universe. I am but a speck, finally seeing just a glimpse of the universe that God created.