I have to admit, I have always loved to gaze at the night sky. I love planetariums and have been in love with going to them since I first went to the Hayden Planetarium in NY when I was a little girl. No offense to anyone, but I still think the Hayden is the best planetarium in the world. As the saying goes, "Your first love is your truest!" Seriously, the love I have is really for the gift of creation and for the incredible cosmos that the Lord has created, which of course stems from my love of the God of All Creation.
Recently I was viewing a picture of part of the universe: it was a NASA photo of one of the nebulae. It stirred me to my core just seeing the immensity of space and all the stars, realizing that our little planet is smaller than a speck in the grand scheme of creation. Shortly after that, I took a trip to New Mexico and at one point was outside the house of a friend who lives in a valley away from any city lights. When I looked up and saw the sky, it took my breath away. I saw the Milky Way, and it is indeed “milky” with stars! It was so vivid! There were stars everywhere, and God made sure I had a good show, because He provided a shooting star (or two!) I have not seen the sky like that in years because I live in a big city. There is too much "light pollution" which truly hides the rest of the universe from sight, except a planet or two and a few really bright stars from time to time. Much as I love planetariums, even the Hayden cannot compete with the real thing. God really created something awe-inspiring and incomprehensible. Yet it can be appreciated if we take the time to look.
The universe is vast. It is not something we can fully grasp in its magnitude. If we even attempt to take the reality of it in, we are overwhelmed. Yet we know it is there and it does not seem to have an end. We know that it is growing, which seems like an oxymoron: how can it be growing if it has no end? Can infinity grow? I suppose the mathematicians and scientists in the crowd can answer that, but from a faith perspective it is, for lack of a better word, awesome. The word awesome is rather overused these days, but we do have a spiritual gift which we receive at Confirmation called "Wonder and Awe" and it is to this which I am really referring. The cosmos should fill us with wonder and awe. That God could create all this is even more mind boggling. Our God has no beginning or end and so everything that exists comes from Him. If I go any further with this we will all have a headache.
Instead, I think it is important for us to realize that the Universe is an incredible gift and we should be awed at the beauty of the spectacle that it is. It is even more important to know that our Scriptures tell us that everything that God created was made for us. The book of Genesis tells us that God made man and woman the center of His creation. Everything else was made for us to enjoy and to use responsibly. If we look at pictures of the universe for any length of time we can be overwhelmed by what this means. It means that His love is even more vast than that which we can comprehend. In the light of all of creation, you and I are the most important part of it. His love for us is bigger than the universe and does not need to grow because it already is infinite.
If you ever are having one of those days when you feel a bit insignificant, (or worse, are feeling very insignificant) meditate with a picture of the universe. Just gaze at it and realize that of all that is out there, you are the center of God's attention. The Psalms tell us that He has the number of our hairs counted and he knows when we sit and when we stand. (Psalm 139). Another Psalm (Ps. 8) says He has made us little less than a god; that is, He has given us great gifts and we are the most important of all His creations. And truly, there are a lot of His creations out there!! God is immensely creative, the Divine Artist, given that everything that is made comes from His palette, so to speak. He has not just imagined, envisioned, and dreamed of what could be: He has moved to make it all a reality. He continues to create from every child that is born to every new star that bursts forth. Yet to Him we are the most important part of this very vast, ever growing, ever expanding, ever changing universe. If that does not take our breath away, nothing will.
Today let us meditate and reflect on the gift of all of Creation, particularly revealed in the immensity of the universe. Let us realize that God's love is without limit and that this impossible-to-comprehend, limitless love is all directed to us. That is, He loves us without end and without limit, without measure. No matter what life has handed us this day, no matter what others mistakenly think of us, no matter what we think of ourselves, we are loved beyond anything we can imagine. Our call is to accept this gift, and in turn, offer it to others and in so doing offer it back to God. How can we not do this? Being loved so much, how could we contain all that love without it overflowing and spilling out to others? Our hearts will throb and overflow, says the author of Isaiah in chapter 60, verse 5. And as if in response, Baruch 3:34-35 describes God by saying: "Before whom the stars at their posts shine and rejoice; when He calls them, they answer, "Here we are!" shining with joy for their Maker."
Let our hearts be moved with the recognition of how greatly we are loved, no matter what. Let us be filled with wonder and awe at the gift of creation, as given us in the cosmos. Let us be filled with gratitude for the God of All Creation and the love He lavishes upon us. Let us love Him not only because He loved us first, but simply because we love Him, simply because He is! Let us meet in the Heart of the God of All Creation where we reply, "Here we are!" when He calls, shining with joy for our Maker! Peace!
The Milky Way
Wikipedia file, permission to print
Also, if you want to pray with an icon which depicts a saint with beautiful stars, go to http://www.standreirublevicons.com/gallery.php?action=viewPicture&id=372 for Fr. William Hart McNichols' icon of St. Rose of Lima.
Or you can go to http://www.standreirublevicons.com/gallery.php?action=viewPicture&id=323 for Mary Most Holy, Mother of all Nations, which is depicted to the left. This is also an icon written by Fr. William Hart McNichols. Prints of these are available for purchase at the website www.fatherbill.org which is the main page for all Fr. Bill's icons.
Heart Speaks to Heart