I’ll admit it. I just returned from a much-needed-but-all-too-short-vacation in Mexico. My biggest decisions during those few blissful days were “what book to read next” and “what restaurant do we choose tonight”. The weather was beautiful, etc., etc. and so forth.
Now, I would not describe myself as a science nerd or even someone who pays much attention to the science news. And, since the end of my days as a new-age-spirituality-guru, I haven’t continued to cast charts (yes, that is correct, I did for a while cast horoscope charts…I’m kind of a hands-on type when it comes to any spiritual exploration), so I really haven’t kept up with the latest information about planetary alignments and astronomy.
But every night, as we stepped from our room to wander the paths back to the main resort for dinner, we were greeted by the most amazing sight in the night sky — a planetary alignment so bright and so clear that it simply could not be missed. The waiter kindly told me that it was very special, it was an alignment of Mars, Saturn and the moon…apparently he had his planets mixed up. It was a very special display of Jupiter, Venus and the Moon and it was breathtaking (if you want to learn more about it, click here for the video explanation).
It was different every night, but always with the moon in the lowest position. I tried to take a picture of it, but I wasn’t patient enough to allow the shutter to work slowly enough to capture the display.
I am not going to wax poetic at this moment about the majesty of nature, seeing God in the sunset, or any other pantheistic musings, all of which I am susceptible to feeling and expressing. What struck me most about this display is that, on the night we flew home to Washington, DC, when I stepped out of the car and turned and looked at the night sky, the magnificent display was still present — only reversed.
In Mexico, the moon was always closest to the horizon. From my parking lot at home, the moon was furthest from the horizon.
So, I am not an ancient human and I realize that in a world in which I can be on a beach in Mexico in the morning and asleep in my own bed the evening of that same day, in that world I have the opportunity to see the heavens from many different perspectives separated by space and time…an opportunity not available to those who came before me in history.
But I also think that the change in heavenly perspective mirrored most dramatically the change in my own human perspective provided by those precious few days of sun and relaxation.
You see, it is never easy to go on vacation. I know…it is hard for many of us. We are busy, we are needed, the to-do list is just too long, there are too many demands on our time, on our resources, on us. This very vacation was in danger of not happening as late as 2:00 am on the morning we were to leave.
But we went. And we relaxed. And our perspective changed, just like the alignment of the moon in that night sky as viewed from two locations, 2000 miles apart.
Lent is not usually the season in which we talk about stars, not liturgically at least. Stars are reserved for Christmas, for the foretelling of the wondrous birth. But even as we walk through the dark days of Lent, as we repent and we confess and we pray and we weep, as we steel our souls and walk again through the Passion week…isn’t there still a bright star ahead of us? Maybe, in these, we just see it from another perspective…but I think it is still there.
Consider this: maybe the star is always there to remind us of hope and of faith and of love, all the things brought to us through the story we live in this season. Personally, I intend to behold and hold that star on this pilgrim’s journey I walk…because I’ve seen it shining oh so bright in so many places and so many faces and so many hearts.
Repent I must, because I am human. Joyful I may always be, because the star guides me. Even when I’m on vacation.