Look up!

July 13, 2020 · Print This Article

Have you looked at the stars recently?

It certainly helps from time to time. But maybe even more so during the lockdown. There’s something about stepping outside and peering into infinity that is almost mesmerising. This is what two astrophotographer’s have done as lockdown eases – their stunning pictures of the Milky Way taken from Devon can be seen here.

We can all remember that moment when we looked up at the stars and they held our gaze and caught our breath. Maybe it was on a bender, or that romantic walk, or that clear night when we took out the rubbish. For me it was when I visited my mother in the Scottish countryside. I got there late – midnight. With no streetlights to compete for my attention, I stepped out the car and was hit with what seemed like hundreds of thousands of little lights peering down at me. And there it was.

The Milky Way!

I had only made my acquaintance with this strip of stars in picture form. But in real life they were every bit as awe-inspiring. As the stars held my gaze, I got that reduced feeling. Not the one you get in a supermarket, but the one when you meet something so much more bigger than yourself. I guess when you come face-to-face with infinity, that’s inevitable.

Inevitable and soothing.

I say soothing because there is something about the starry blanket of mystery and magnificence that reduces the mundane and menial of our existence. That gives us perspective. Millions of people have lived and died on the watch of the same starry splendour. These stars are a witness to the transience of human life as they inhabit their own perpetual transcendence. This is why we are soothed by them. They speak beyond our infinitesimal life.

Life with all of its worries, stresses, pressures and pain hems us in. Pushes our gaze ever inwards, closer to our own horizons of concern. Yet, the stars in all their stillness dare us to think beyond ourselves. Beyond the stress. Beyond the here and now. They dare us to question.

For me when I stood stunned at the splendour of this train of stars, I was met with the question of my existence. The starry inquisition asked of me, what is this light show, this universe, all about?

I don’t know what your answer would be to such a jury of jewels. But if you are looking for an answer, here is what one poet’s conclusion was from long long ago:

“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge.”[1]

This week, why don’t we find time to look up.

Richard Fowler info@because.uk.com

Richard is editorial assistant at Because

[1] The Bible, Psalms 19:1-2
Photo by Greg Rakozy on Unsplash
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