Saturday, November 17, 2007

Looking up

We're barely into the holiday season and although I hate to admit it, I'm no better than the folks I complain about who force the season upon us by advertising, displaying goods, and decorating their stores far too early. We too have "hurried up" the season this year by putting up the tree and decorating the house before the month of December (or even the last week in November, for that matter) has arrived.

Our purpose is noble: my daughter, Dennae, and her husband Richie, and their three little boys will be arriving for our Christmas celebration at the end of next weekend, during what is traditionally known as the Thanksgiving weekend. Due to conflicting work and college schedules, the only time we could get together as a family to celebrate Christmas was during the 4th weekend of November, so that necessitated the early decorating. To further mess up our holidays, we had our Thanksgiving meal yesterday with friends here on base, a full week before the actual holiday. Again, the demands of life forced us to celebrate early, so I'm a week closer to Christmas (mentally, that is) than I would be if things were moving along in a normal manner.

Thankfully, though, there are other things going on at the moment to keep my attention focused on what's really important about this time of year. The big news in the world of astronomy lately is the presence of Comet 17P/Holmes and I've had a great time watching for it on several clear nights here in Mississippi. Although my interest in astronomy has been lifelong, I haven't done much about it until lately and even now, I haven't even reached what could be termed amateur level. What I can't see with the naked eye or through my son-in-law's binoculars doesn't get seen, but thanks be to our Heavenly Father, there's plenty up there to be admired even with no equipment.

Although I know there's no connection between the two events, knowing that shepherds in the field and wise men from the East witnessed a bright star glowing in the nighttime sky over two millenia ago, and that millions of star-watchers across the world are watching the progress of a glowing Comet Holmes today, makes me wonder if God isn't trying to get our collective attention. The earth is so full of breathtaking scenery, countless species of life, and untold mysteries that it boggles my mind. To know that the sky above (of which our planet is merely a pinprick in the vastness of the space) is filled with millions of galaxies and billions upon trillions of stars, planets, moons and other celestial glories is beyond my comprehension. Exploring the beauty of our tiny home in the Milky Way would be enough to keep a human being busy for countless lifetimes. The wonders of our universe, which we're learning about at a faster pace than ever due to our modern technology and voyages into space, will keep us busy for an eternity.

I look forward to learning all there is to know about our lovely world and the breathtaking heavens above while I'm still here on earth. But all that pales in comparison to what I will undoubtedly encounter during eternity when I compare notes with my fellow stargazers--the shepherds of the field and the wise men from the East. All that and Jesus too.

Until the next time...

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