Patrick Archbold is co-founder of Creative Minority Report, a Catholic website that puts a refreshing spin on the intersection of religion, culture, and politics. When not writing, Patrick is director of information technology at a large international logistics company in New York.
I sometimes wonder if God chose to reveal a great event through signs in the heavens, would anybody notice?
Up until a little over a century ago, the heavens were heavenly. Nights were dark, but in the darkness we saw the Heavens more clearly. It served to put us in our place and inspire us with a sense of awe for all God's great creation.
But when the nights became illuminated with our own light, we failed to look up anymore. We are no longer inspired because we can no longer see. We are a society of navel gazers who in their hubris imagine they understand a universe better than their ancestors even though many of of us have never seen it. Who needs the heavens? We have our own light.
Until you have been in a place in which the majesty of the carpet of stars and galaxies lays out before you, it is impossible to know what you are missing. I grew up and live in the bright shadow of the great city that pridefully obscures the heavens for miles in all directions. I never knew, how could I?
As a kid, I loved the planetarium. But the pictures portrayed on the ceiling were a fiction to me, no more than a magical space adventure with ray guns and merciless oriental bad guy.
But it happened one day that I was visiting a friend in the Berkshires and found myself on hilltop surrounded by mountains. A place where the prideful light had not yet made a home. After sunset, I went outside to get something from my car and I did something were rarely do anymore.
I looked up and I gasped!
Something like an act of contrition passed through my heart at that moment. I am sorry, Lord. I didn't know. And then something else came to my mind, a sense of awe that I had never felt before. It was in that moment, a moment still so vivid almost thirty years later, that I understood a hymn I had known since childhood.
O Lord my God, when I in awesome wonder
Consider all the *worlds thy hands have made,
I see the stars, I hear the *rolling thunder,
Thy power throughout the universe displayed:
Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to thee:
How great thou art! How great thou art!
Like me, my children have grown up in the bright shadow of the great city. Their generation has taken navel gazing to a gadget induced extreme. Forget about looking up, they don't even look around. Their universe is a 4 inch screen inches from their faces.
I have resolved that this summer I will take them to a place, a place deep in the Pennsylvania mountains, a place where the heavens are on display like in very few places today.
I want them to look up. I want them to be in awe. I want them to be thankful. I want them to see the catechism in the sky.
In short, I want them to look, understand, and say, "How great thou art!"