Just this past week I had the joy and delight of being able to go to west Texas to an area called Big Bend. As beautiful as the terrain of the National Park is, with its mountains, desert, varied birds and wildflowers, the most stellar part of the trip was the visit to the McDonald Observatory in Fort Davis, TX. (Pun intended) The observatory is incredible in its own right with telescopes that are wonders to behold. But it was the nighttime “star party” that enchanted me. At around 9:15 PM we were taken outside to the amphitheater to view the night sky, free of all ‘light pollution’ since we were in the darkest part of Texas on a clear night, (thank God.) To say it was spectacular is a gross understatement. We saw with the naked eye constellations such as Cassiopeia, Orion, Ursa Major and Minor, star clusters such as the Pleiades, and some planets, such as Venus, Jupiter, and Saturn. After the show we were able to walk around the area to view space through various telescopes. I saw Jupiter with such clarity that I could see four of its moons; even the large ‘floating’ storm was faintly visible. And I also saw a galaxy or two, such as Messier 51. It was a time of grace, gratitude, and deep wonder and awe.
But all this insignificance is significant because as small as we are, we are known and loved to a greater degree by God than the entire universe combined. Everything about us is known by Him. With all that is in the universe, most of which is beyond our comprehension, God has every one of the hairs on our head counted (Matt 10:30) and knows each and every one of us intimately. And He knows our sins and forgives them when we ask. (Acts 3:13-19) His love and mercy are boundless! If we were really so insignificant, He would not have cared enough to come to earth, die, rise, and therefore free us from all that holds us bound, including death. No matter who we are, where we are from, what our socio-economic status, sexual orientation, health status, mental capacity, gender, or age may be, we matter immensely to God. This is a greater marvel than the wonders of deep space and a thought far more beautiful than the night sky, with its lovely Milky Way (in which we reside, by the way). With all the stars, galaxies, and ‘what-have-you’ out there, as small and seemingly insignificant as you and I are in the universe, we are the center of God’s attention each and every moment of our lives. Even when we sleep, He is mindful of us. (Psalm 139 and Matt. 28:20) There is no greater reality than this. We are significant in our seeming insignificance. This gift of God’s love and attention to us is simply stunning.
Had Jesus lived in our age instead of in first century Palestine, I wonder if He might have told a parable about the stars in space and our place within them. No matter, the lesson is this: we are all significantly insignificant. That is, we are infinitesimally small amidst all of creation and because of that we ought to be truly insignificant to Him, but instead, we are known down to our last hope and desire. We are immensely significant to God, who created us intimately, and who in intimacy knows our heart and mind even better than we do. And He loves each of us as if nothing else exists. In light of what does exist, that is nothing short of astonishing.
©Michele L. Catanese
*For an explanation of what a quark is click here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quark
The icon at the beginning of this post is called The Risen Lord Appears to St. Thomas by Fr. William Hart McNichols. If you are interested in a copy as a plaque it can be found at
All of the photos are mine. The ones in the series are, respectively, The Chisos Mountains in Big Bend National Park, the McDonald Observatory, and the huge telescope inside the observatory.
-Next is a cactus flower. I chose this because it is a bit of 'an incredulous joy.' Where the desert seems so stark and possibly lifeless, everything is in bloom; even a prickly cactus has a joyous beauty about it.
-The following photo is of one (lonely) bluebonnet, the state flower of Texas. There were bluebonnets everywhere, so this really does not portray the myriads of flowers lining all the roadways. And that is precisely why I chose this photo. The flower is significant and was noticed even when alone in the sand. (This lone flower was near the banks of the Rio Grande. Bluebonnets in Big Bend can grow to three feet high.)
-The final photo is a sunset over the Chisos Mountains.