How Can I See God If I Can’t See His Stars

I was sitting in my favorite chair watching a Hallmark movie and the female lead excitedly asked the male lead to join her. Her head tilted upward she pointed to the expansive view of the night sky. What had so fascinated her? Those millions of twinkling lights that filled every inch of the night sky. I turned to my wife and jokingly said, “Let’s get out our lawn chairs and go out in the back yard and enjoy that same view.” She laughed and said, “You mean look at the one or two stars we can see.”

How can I see God if I can’t see his stars?

How can I see his grandeur if I can’t experience the unlimited expanse of the heavens?

If my mind can’t go a greater distance than I can throw a baseball it doesn’t go very far. I’m not going to say that I and you are not made for the city. I’m not going to say that cities are perversions of where we should live. But let’s understand one truth, living in an urban setting (the city) is certainly fundamentally different than living in a rural setting (the country). I’m not talking just about physically but how each effects the mind differently. Our relationships, not just in families but among others outside family, become less personal and more abstract in cities over the country. I’m not trying to create the image that one is more idealistically perfect—the country—where only true knowledge can be discovered.

While Benjamin Franklin may have discovered electricity it wasn’t until Thomas Edison in 1879 created the light bulb and changed the world. As far as a clear view of the heavens and all it contains, whether in the country or city the night sky was a canvas of awe and wonder. Why is this important? Because whatever else looking into the heaven’s depth, a depth that we really didn’t even begin to understand until the telescope gave us a deeper look, knowing that there was something greater than ourselves that we were a part of gave us an odd comfort. I contend, of course, that our being knows we are connected to this greatness, that we are more than a speck of sand on a giant rock in an infinite world. Without this sense, to feel so small in a world of infiniteness would be depressingly overwhelming.

To be. What does it mean to be? We can’t get away from this question, it’s innately part of us, part of our thinking, our questioning mind. I’m not sure if other creatures who share living on this earth have this thought, but going on our thinking, on our creation of language and putting that into written words and images, on the outcomes of what we create that is so fundamentally different from other creatures I’s say, yes.

We’re not so foreign from other creatures, we share so much. I watch them, their behavior, their emotions, their interactions with others, I see so much that is recognizable that tells me that while they might not question what it means to be, they experience it in ways meaningful to them. We’ve lost this sense being stuck in the city, in the concrete jungle. The filmLost Weekendproduced in 1945 directed by Billy Wilder, starring Ray Milland whose character, Don Birnam, is a chronic alcoholic, and binge drinker. As he speaks of others with the same condition in the “concrete jungle” the camera pans across a skyline of Manhattan as an epilogue to the story:

“Out there in that great big concrete jungle, I wonder how many others there are like me… poor bedeviled guys, on fire with thirst; such comical figures to the rest of the world, as they stagger blindly towards another binger, another bender, another spree.”

Or perhaps the song “Concrete Jungle” by Bob Marley says it all:

“No sun will shine in my day today
(No sun will shine)
The high yellow moon won’t come out to play
(Won’t come out to play)
Darkness has covered my light . . .”

Having a cat or dog might give us the feeling of connectedness to nature, but it’s too small, to limited a connection. It doesn’t give us that real sense of something greater than ourselves because our view is stunted. We put birds in cages, fish in tanks, we might even put a Holy Bible on the living room table, that might make us feel good, but if we were a 12-cyclinder engine we’re only operating on a couple of cylinders. None of it helps a lot.

This is not to say the our minds in the city are necessarily closed and we cannot connect to the greatness around us, nor is this to say that our minds in the country are necessarily open and we are always filled with awe and wonder.

There is this saying; “Familiarity breeds contempt.” There is some truth here but my concern is that familiarity draws down our emotions lost in the mundane. Say I move to a house in the forest. For a time I’m overwhelmed with awe over everything I see, both horizontally and vertically. Every day I see it and over time it becomes so familiar I stop looking, stop contemplating on what I see, I close my mind

I have an orange cat sitting on my lap right now. He keeps looking back at me. I wonder what he’s wondering. He seems contented but he doesn’t know what I do. Ignorance is bliss so it’s said. There are an awful lot of confusing surprises with ignorance. My youngest granddaughter was playing with a roly poley pill bug yesterday. She’s fascinated by them. What are they thinking when she picks one of and lets it crawl in her hand? She’s never seen the expansiveness of the heavens, never been overwhelmed by the fullness of the sky, never wondered how she could be on a giant rock ball and not fall off. It all seems to fit somehow, but how?

What will her questions be if she never gets out of the city? What will her answers be if she never gets out of the city?