Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Stars At Night...

                                                               The Stars at Night

It was one of those evenings we have occasionally. It was clear, no wind, low humidity and a temperature somewhere in the mid forties. I think the cedar pollen was relatively low that night. The air felt good to the skin, the cool air was invigorating to the lungs. I had gone out to  feed the dogs, I sat down and looked up to feed my soul.

One of the advantages to White Bluff, where I live, is that there are no city lights and very, very few street lights. It is dark out here. That night was absolutely perfect for star gazing and my goodness did they ever put on a show. Any direction I turned was a symphony of light... bright to nebulous, twinkling to steady, stacked to scattered. There was so much to see that it was overwhelming and all but impossible to take it in. Soothing, thrilling, and just plain beautiful. It was a "wow" moment.

I was still somewhat mesmerized the next day when I remembered the night. I got on the computer to learn a bit more. One of those stars I guess I saw was Alpha Centauri. It is the closest star other than our sun to Whitney. It is a mere 4.24 light years away. Somewhere up there or out there is Barnard's star, the second closest at 4.6 light years away.( all distances approx. from the covered bridge in White Bluff) The farthest visible star is Star Carnae at 200 light years. The farthest galaxy clocks in at 13.2 billion light years away. A light year is 5,878,499,810 miles. There are between 200 to 400 billion stars in our Milky Way Galaxy.( I know that is a big difference but seriously, when you lose track at 87 billion and have to start counting again, any astronomer might be off by a hundred billion or two.)Do the math, those suckers are long way off. I didn't know I could see so well. The trouble is when we star gaze, we are literally looking back in history, ancient history. By the time the light from those stars reaches my back yard, they may be dead, gone, burned out. I'm seeing light that began its journey to my eyes long before my eyes or even my world was created. Turns out we can all see a long way, can't we?

We see back into history, can any of us see very far into it? No, not really. While I was sitting in the yard a couple of weeks ago about 10:30 PM I was just enjoying the show. I had a dog sitting under each hand, getting an ear rub. One of them decided to "thank" me and jumped up to give a lick--he got me right on my glasses. I took them off to clean with a hem of my tee shirt and noticed I couldn't see any stars. Unable to focus without the proper lenses their awe and beauty were lost to me. There were still there, I just couldn't access them with my weak eyes no longer assisted my glasses. I suppose many of the things of God are like that. We can see back into our history but don't realize that that old stuff is gone. We face circumstances in life where we can't see God at work, but like the stars during the day or when our faith lenses are cloudy, He is still there.  Like starlight, a lot of what appears pretty and nice now, may actually be already gone. And when we can't see into the future, we can always look by faith to Jesus who always gives us enough vision to
 follow Him into it. 

The vastness of the universe I can't begin to comprehend. I just enjoy the show and marvel at its beauty on starry, starry nights. And God is bigger and His love more vast and almost beyond comprehension is this truth: He loves you and me. You won't get that message from the stars but from the One who hung them and named them (Ps.147:4) and demonstrated that love for us that while we were yet sinners, He died for us.  (Romans 5:8) At least a part of eternity should be to gaze into that truth for a few light years and let it sink in.

Deep in the heart,

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

A "To Do" List

I finished my "to do" list for the year, unfortunately the year in mind is 2009. Oops, all the official documents in my life say it is 2012 but not one nerve fiber in my body, mind, or spirit will attest to that fact. It can't be. Looking back on 2011 I have to confess that I accomplished nothing...diidly squat, goose-egged, nada, the big "O." Most who read this blog are kind-hearted positive folk who will try to counter that last statement. All eight of you search in vain. There's nothing there. Let me share what didn't happen last year....

I didn't win the Pulitzer Prize for literature. True, I thought I had a better shot in 2010 but no one even nominated me this year. I haven't figured out if this fact should make me try harder, give up or find a more influential group than the eight who read this thing. The Pulitzer process being what it is I'm not sure if anyone I know could even get in the nominating circle. Maybe next year, oh wait, next year is already this year, dang!

I also didn't break 80 on the golf course. Now technically I guess I did break 80 but it was usually by the  14th or 15th hole that I passed it going up. It's also true that I spent little time on the driving range or putting green but I would have thought luck would have had some effect. I also know that those eastern religions with some thing called "karma" aren't true either because I supplied the golf course with plenty of extra balls in her woods and lakes. Such offerings should have brought lots of good karma but nope, not a bit. I have to be lucky or forgetful to break 90 now. I have gotten lots of satisfaction walking the course and finding golf balls. I have actually gone back out on my walks and found balls I had lost a day or two before. That's the only part of my game that has improved.

I didn't get to New York this past year either. Pam and I have been talking about it for years. I can actually see it happening now whereas before it was just a silly hope. In fact, I've saved enough that with only four thousand more dollars Pam and I will go. It may not be 2012 but it's closer.

I also didn't go on a spiritual retreat this past year. There were some real, unavoidable reasons for it in 2011 but the bottom line was I didn't make it. Part of the problem is where I live. You are suppose to go to a quiet place where  you can commune with nature, relax and maybe recreate a little. On retreat you take time to think, pray, and discover anew and afresh who the Lord is and who you are in Him. You see the problem, I live in a place like that all the time! My "retreat" needs to be be street preaching in the hustle and bustle of noisy Houston, LA or New York. Hey, maybe I could go to New York, preach in the streets and use my convention money and call it a spiritual retreat. Well, if I hadn't just put it in a blog maybe I could have....

One other thing I didn't do in 2011. I didn't die. Its not that it was on the agenda or my bucket list but I guess that was one thing I accomplished in 2011. It took a lot of grace for that to happen, too.  I seem to recall some truths taught about dying to self in the context of following Christ. Yeah, that needs to happen better in 2012. The truth is, it is very unlikely that I will win the Pulitzer Prize in 2012 or any year that begins with "20." I am not a good golfer. I may never break "80." There is still a little hope there but it fades with every slice. We will get to New York but the real plans of living life have more to do with visiting family and church members than Broadway. And one day I will die. I don't know if it is 2012 or 2020. I can't see those things but I can see the dying to self, ambition, pride, having to have my way, having to be right and coming more alive to Jesus, His life and His will and joy more than ever. And if that happens more in 2012 then the things that don't happen won't matter any more than they did in 2011.

Gotta go, it's almost Christmas,