Last Saturday, the Perseid meteor shower was at its peak. Lying in the backyard right around midnight, I struggled with needing to focus on one piece of the sky. I was constantly tempted to look someplace else, that maybe the next falling star would be over here, or over there, or wait, maybe I have a better chance of seeing it someplace else. I had to keep bringing my focus back to the center and waiting. And then suddenly a meteor would streak across the sky, right in my field of vision.
The Lord took Abraham outside and said, ‘Look up at the sky and count the stars, if you can’” (Genesis 15:5).
The ambient light of the city means that only a very few stars are ever really visible from my backyard. The longer I lay there, the lighter the sky seemed. More stars appeared. I thought of the line from Psalm 139: “Even darkness is not dark for you.”
We see shooting stars and and think they’re crossing our path. But the great annual meteor showers—the Perseids, the Leonids, the Geminids, the Draconids—are all fixed areas in space, floating debris from comets long ago exploded. Every created thing in the universe comes into existence and passes out of existence, leaving a trail of light and then vanishing into the darkness.
The night sky can do so much to restore a sense of perspective when the world, as Wordsworth says, “is too much with us.” I wasn’t surprised by the number of Scripture quotes and prayers that drifted through my mind while my eyes were focused on the stars.