Have you noticed the night sky lately? There is something different about it. Having grown up on a farm in a remote part of Indiana, viewing the magnificent, celestial bodies on a clear night is not something new for me. However, after living in the Chicagoland area for over ten years now, a clear night sky is a much rarer thing to experience here.
“When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place; what are human beings that you are mindful of them, mortals that you care for them?”
This excerpt from Psalm 8 always rattles around in my head when I stare at the night sky, and the clearer the night, the more I marvel at creation. To think of the earth, and the heavens, and our place among it all is to enter into the dichotomy of feeling small and uneventful, powerful and influential, all in the same stream of consciousness.
In the midst of this renewed sense in viewing creation, I am seeing many articles about how nature is having a bit of a resurrection itself, in regards to areas where humans typically dominate. Some of these have bits of truth, some are flat out false (elephants did not get drunk on corn wine, and pass out in a garden), but the kernel of truth is present, albeit sometimes riddled with jargon and buzz words. Humans have a significant impact on their environment. All rhetoric, and politically charged nomenclature aside, humans have a significant impact on their environment. One area where that is the clearest (pun) has been the significant drop in the amount of air pollution all over the world, as has been confirmed by NASA and maps provided by the Descartes Labs.
I do not mean to single out humans as the only driving force in ecological changes. The natural world has its part to play, as well. We are, however, the rare being that is cognizant of our actions and intelligently capable of acknowledging ourselves. It is important to know thyself.
I mentioned a portion of Ecclesiastes 3, in an earlier devotion, that stated there being “a time to tear down and a time to build up.” I mentioned this in the context of our own unique, individual selves, but having the time to reflect upon this further, my focus has shifted. Looking up at these brilliant night skies, I wonder, have we been tearing down this earth at too high a rate without an honest plan to build it back up? What else have we been tearing down at an unsustainable rate? One need only to turn to the news to see how ravaging we can be to one another, in a time of trouble no doubt.
When this pandemic is behind us, will we take the opportunity to build up beyond ourselves, to know ourselves and acknowledge our previous faults? Will we build each other up along with the world around us, our natural environments, as well as the ones made from human hands? Will we acknowledge all things bright and beautiful, all creatures great and small, all things wise and wonderful? Will we acknowledge that the Lord God made them all, including ourselves, and that we depend on the totality of one another?
We depend on each little flower that opens, each little bird that sings, those glowing colors, those tiny wings.
My prayer for you is two-fold. I pray that you might look to the night sky and marvel. Marvel at the big differences small changes make. Marvel at the ties that bind through time and space. Marvel at our common bond here on earth.
I also pray that you might expand beyond building up your individual selves, and seek to build up each other, so that we can keep these beautiful skies, this beautiful earth, and all of its marvelous creatures, as bright and beautiful as possible. Amen.