(definition further explained in this post if you still aren't satisfied)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

On Meteors and God

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.


Warren said...

I love meteor showers. And stargazing. I really love stargazing. It gives me such a sense of peace that I can just sit there, let the wonder of God's creation wash over me, and know that it's made for me.

I had an awesome experience during the last one that I saw, the Perseids in August. I'd gone out there with my pillow and laptop for some music, and just lay on the ground watching the sky for a few hours. I was starting to get sleepy, 'cause it was getting pretty close to 1:00, so I asked God "Hey, could You send a really good one right through that constellation there? A good bright one that leaves a trail! I just want that one, and then I'm going to bed. I'm not trying to convince You to prove Yourself to me, I won't stop believing in you if you don't send a good meteor. I just wanna see a good one." So I waited.

No more than five minutes later, it happened just as I asked. Right through the path my finger traced across the sky, straight through the little constellation, Delphinus, that I indicated. It was the brightest one of the night, and it left a trail that hung there for a few seconds afterwards. I stood up, laughing in wonder, grabbed my stuff and went inside to go to bed.

jeevans01 said...

Sometimes I have moments of perspective.

For example, consider that fact that we are standing at the bottom of an immense gravity well on a chunk of rock and water, spinning at over 1000 mph, and hurtling around a nuclear fireball at 67000 mph. Perspective much?

Dara said...

I really love what you've written here. It hit me because I really haven't been spending time with God that I should. In fact, I've probably been a pretty poor Christian. :( It's kind of like that song by Matthew West, called The Motions--I think that's what I'm doing now and my heart's not really there, when it should be.

Thanks for posting this :)

BTW, I commented back to you on my blog post about NaNo, in case you're interested in reading it.

Deidra said...

Warren and Jamie--thank you very much for sharing!

Dara--I heard that song just today on the radio, and it struck a chord in me. It's well written and a very good reminder to all of us!

As you have read, I also have problems with this issue. If you don't mind my humble advice from one sinner to another, don't let yourself get too discouraged. I often find that being upset with yourself or ashamed of your behavior can hold you back from improvement. This may sound obvious, but it helps me to consciously, definitively decide to let go of my mistakes. Once you've told yourself that you aren't going to think about it or let it bother you anymore, you're more enabled to get yourself going again. Once your own discouragement is out of the way, God always lets you come back to Him. That is one of the most amazing things about Him. :)

Thank you for the notification!