Last night, I walked out of the house at three o'clock in the morning. I got in the car and drove. Past the high school, past the big intersection, past Wal Mart....past civilization and into the night. I didn't stop until only my headlights revealed a way through the dark. Once I found that dark place, I pulled off the road and turned off the engine to stand outside. Leaning against the side of the car, I looked up.
That night there was supposed to be a meteor shower, and I was going to see one for the first time.
As I stared at the still-tranquil sky, profound thoughts began to fill my mind. (This is, of course, because it is impossible to look up at the night sky without becoming a philosopher. It's part of the experience.) As my mind whirred, the stars seemed far away, as I had come to this place expecting. What I didn't foresee was the feeling of a large, encompassing ceiling pressing down on me. The stars suddenly looked very close! I was not only amazed, but I felt weirdly comforted. The sky-ceiling made the entire world feel smaller, like a big room instead of a planet. I blinked repeatedly, expecting the illusion to quickly dissolve, but it actually took thinking to make the sky go back. It took a change in mental perception instead of physical perception. Such a start to my adventure, though a bit confusing, was much preferable to sleep.
Abruptly, a few swooshy things (and yes, that is the technical astronomy term,) swooped at the edges of my vision. My eyes darted around the sky, trying to tell me if the movement was an illusion and unable to come up with an answer. As I tried to stalk movement with my eyeballs, it occured to me that the huge ball of life I was standing on was charging through space as I stood still staring patiently up and out. I blame this thought on the articles I read about meteor showers beforehand that described the earth tearing through a cloud of peacefully floating meteors that look like streaking stars to us. As I contemplated the feeling of standing still and hurdling through the universe simultaneously, I realized that I've had a life experience much like this. When I was younger, I was adrift. I didn't know what to do and didn't have a clear purpose, which is something that I think comes with youth. At a Christian youth conference with my youth group, I felt convicted by the motivation of the people around me because I had lacked it for so long. Upset by this, I talked to my youth minister and verbalized my dissapointment in myself up to this point. I explained how I didn't think I had done much of anything for God because I didn't know what He was asking of me. My youth minister told me that I had made differences, especially for one girl in particular who needed a friend. He explained to me that even when we don't know what we're doing, God does. He can use us even when we are completely unaware of it. It stunned me to look back and see what He had done through me while I was missing it! Although I felt like I was standing still, I was actually moving in the big scheme of things. It wasn't the night sky that filled me with awe at that moment. The memory was a welcome reminder of the wonder of God.
My thoughts were cut short when I heard another sound. As I had been standing there, there were periodical small snaps of a twig or brief rustling noises--sounds that come with the night. I had tried to remind myself not to be too jumpy; although I was in the dark middle of nowhere by myself, I was pretty sure that I was, in fact, by myself, and I didn't want to spend all my time squinting in the dark for a threat that wasn't there. This new sound went on longer and seemed louder than the other noises, causing me to whip my head around to stare into the black. It sounded like something small falling from a tree, hitting leaves and landing with a tiny crash in the grass. My heart pounded as I shined a light toward the sound, finding nothing. I seriously considered getting back in my car then, and thought maybe I could try to look out at the sky through the windshield to be safe. Then I realized: I'd never really see the stars from inside my car. That thought seemed significant. If a person is held back by fear, they can't ever reach their true potential or experience the amazement of it. I opted to stay outside and loved every minute of it.
All of a sudden, there were streaks of light through the sky that I knew weren't my imagination. It was exciting! I got to see movement were there is normally stillness. As if the stars aren't amazing and beautiful enough, this was a chance to see them dance. I decided that this was the best time to get real with God, because I had been slacking off too much. I began to hum so I could get used to the sound of my voice in the stillness. Then it was time to talk. I told Him about my stupidity that made me lazy, and about the confusion that keeps me frozen in place. I wanted to ask Him what to do, but I had asked many times before. Then it smacked me in the brain: why was I always waiting? I would ask God what to do, and then wait for an answer. Couldn't I figure out from His word that He's calling us to action? Then I knew what to do.
I've been telling people for years that if they want to build relationships with people, they have to talk to them, open the lines of communication, find ways to spend time with them. I've been saying that I want to build my relationship with God, but how stupid is it that I haven't been making time to hang out with Him? It doesn't always have to be something that feels tedious to us at times, like reading the Old Testament or going through a prayer list. Why don't I schedule some good old-fashioned hang-out time to just talk to Him? Something this obvious makes me feel stupid once I realize it, but it's something that each person has to learn for themselves, and I finally did.
After seeing a few more bright meteors, I decided that I was ready to head back home. I got in the car with a new feeling of peace in me, but also excitement at my revelations. You can bet I'm making plans for next time.