Can You See The Beauty In The Dark?

Nate, the youngest of our two nephews on my husband's side, is enchanted by science. When he found out that Uncle Shawn had a new telescope, he couldn't wait to take it out. Since we live a couple hours away, we had to schedule a special time to get together, and we finally found time last weekend as we agreed to meet each other in the mountains to camp.

Shawn's interest in astronomy began when he was about Nate's age, but he just recently saved enough money to buy an advanced scope with the accompanying accessories. He had set it up on our porch several times, but the surrounding light pollution left us wanting a better view.

We waited until about ten o'clock then packed up the equipment and drove up the road to an open field among the pine trees. Once the headlights were turned off, the blindness set in. Shawn had a special headlamp that shone red light on his work space (designed to preserve the eye's vision in the dark), but I wondered how I was going to see well enough to walk to the telescope. However, there was no moon to interfere with the light of the stars, and after a few minutes of sitting in the black, our eyes adjusted to the night.

The beauty of the sky unfolded above us. There were thousands upon thousands of little points of light everywhere we looked. The Milky Way came into focus as it spanned the horizon, and several bright planets called for a closer view.

Looking through the lenses and mirrors in the telescope, we could see the rings of Saturn, some of Jupiter's moons, and a fuzzy spot that turned out to be a nebula. We had all the time in the world as we took turns at the tripod and craned our necks looking for meteorites.

It was silent... meditative... almost holy.

How often do we go through periods of darkness and miss the beauty? We think we can't see in the murky places, but if we still ourselves, take some deep breaths, and wait for our eyes to adjust, there will be something beautiful that has been hiding in the dark, waiting for you to see it.

Here are some of my doorways from this week:

  • I met a friend for a mid-afternoon fruit smoothie, and she brought her almost 3-year-old daughter with her. The young child was making herself at home in the food court's small arcade, and when we next glanced over from our nearby table, she was playing air hockey with another boy and his grandma. She was so joyful at learning a new skill that she was completely unaware of the fact that she had interrupted their game. The beauty was in the grace the grandma had shown by happily inviting another child into the fun.
  • While camping, some little butterflies came into our camper (the bugs were out in full force!). I have a soft spot for these insects despite my dislike for most others. I decided to rescue them by getting them to climb onto a paper towel or plastic cup (one even ended up on my hand) and transferring them outside. As I attempted my catch and release, I found myself talking to each one, reassuring them that I meant no harm. Being an empathetic person is one thing, but by using my human-power of size and reasoning to help something as vulnerable as a butterfly, it gave me a glimpse of the connection that all living beings share.


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