Why You Need to Go Look at the Stars Tonight {and become One of the Wise Men}

It’s after midnight.

And he’s driving down the middle of an empty country road when he just flicks the headlights right off and the black isn’t black after all.

“Look at it!” I whisper it out the passenger window. The bowl of milky moon’s spilling over snow sleeping fields. “You could drive the whole way home without the lights on.”

Moon Over Trees, Postcard

“That moon sure is bright… ” The Farmer’s leaning over the steering wheel. The moon’s reflecting the sun and the Christmas white countryside’s reflecting the moon and we’re all faces shining tonight nearing the solstice, the whole world looking up.

It’s Advent. Isn’t this what wise men do?

Two thousand years ago, far in the east, magi were like this, craning necks back to touch the black.

To read star Braille in the dark.

Members of the ruling body of the Megistanes, they were robed sages with absolute powers in the selection of the king for the eastern empire. The wise men were king-makers. King-Makers feeling along the stars for a sign, knowledge revealed.

We’re just farmers heading back towards the hearth.

But these waiting nights of advent, we too press our ears up to the heavens to catch a word of this speech pouring forth, press our faces into the night, looking for knowledge of Who is I AM, of who I am.

Isn’t the whole planet out, looking up for a King?

Up is deep, a sky of endless emptiness, endlessly full.

Sun-stars so far away, they’re small.

That make me feel my own smallness.

When you wish upon a star

The cosmic dome blinks and sparks and spins with the heavenly host.

Eight thousand light years into that celestial ocean, the whirl of a stellar wind forms the waving threads of the Hourglass Nebula with the peering eye in the center.

I can’t see it but the Sombrero Galaxy’s blinding white, its bulbous centre spinning like an explosive broad-rimmed hat, whipping up a spiraling dust ring 28 million light years from these December fields.

A mere 7,000 light years away, the filmy wings of the 90 trillion kilometers high Eagle Nebula, bears newborn stars in its explosive nursery.  I wonder if I should clap for this speech thundering down?

I can’t.

I am bereft of words, movement. Awed still.

Night air snaps cold and heaven pushes close, blanketing, and I think I can almost touch them, all these stars.

Aren’t there only a few thousand I can see with the naked eye?

And then all the deeper ones in the galaxies farther in.

Seventy thousand million, million, million in the known universe, so the current wise men say.

Who also say that “that is 10 times as many stars as the grains of sand on all the world’s shores and deserts.”

We’re out here looking up in this season of waiting for a king. I read along the stellar dots raised in the night:

He breathed the word, and all the stars were born” (Ps.33:6 NLT).

Our God breathes stars.

Is that the wisp of His breath rising in the Eagle Nebula?

Sitting here beside The Farmer, my swine herder, I think of sheep herders who saw God breathe a Star of Wonder over a Bethlehem sky.

That night, like this, the heavens declared the glory of God, pouring forth speech: “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased” (Lk. 2:14).

Did the angels’ wings rise over the shepherd’s fields like the Eagle Nebula’s rises high over ours?

We’re driving home on an advent night, looking up, hearing, seeing, nearly touching the glory of God, but it all begs the question: who are we that He is mindful of us?

I look up at starry host and marvel at omnipotent I AM… but who are we?

Voyageur 1, the spacship, snapped the picture of who we are, on Valentine’s Day, 1990, from 4 billion miles away, as the spacecraft turned around for one final glance back at its home before it drifted forever out of our solar system.

The photograph initially seemed inconsequential.

But men leaned in, read the sky painstakingly — and there we are.

That’s who we are: the entire planet an infinitesimal 0.12 pixel in the photographed scheme of space.

It almost looks like nothing, this globe with its craning wise men.

Screen shot 2011-12-20 at 7.55.02 AM
Pale Blue dot of Earth in shaft of sun light, taken 4 billion miles away

So we float, captured quite serendipitously in a scattered light ray from the sun, suspended in the lonely black of space.

We’re just driving home on a cold, Canadian night.

And the whole of the world sleeps, and works, and schemes and worships, and is, a pinpoint.

If the heavens declare the glory of God… what does this picture of the pale blue dot declare of earth?

Eminent astronomer Carl Sagan, deeply moved by the photograph of us in the universe, said,

“Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light.

Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark.

In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.”

~Carl Sagan

Really? “No hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves”?

This century’s supposed wise man — he didn’t look high enough.

God didn’t bother with a mere “hint.”

He rang it across the heavens, broadcast it from the astral apex, shattered the skies with the tidings.

True wise men look up and know whence this pale blue dot’s help comes from: Our help comes — wildly — from the very Maker of these staggering heavens and minute earth.

He who breathes stars, breathed Bethlehem Star, then took on lungs, breathed in heavy stable air.

The cosmos sings. We are not alone.

We rightly know who we are, a “lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark” — but we know Who He is: on those living in land of the shadow of death, a great Light has dawned (Isa 9:2).

Incomprehensible One who cradles galaxies in the palm of His hand, whom highest heavens cannot contain, curls his newborn fist in a barn feed trough on orbiting earth — and we’re saved from ourselves.

God with us.… God whirling with us here on this singular, pale blue dot.

Emmanuel… God with us.

We are not alone.

Who cannot bow low before Cosmic King, God come down?

Love come down…

Yesterday is Candle night.  #2

We turn at our sideroad, drive up through the woods, still looking up. Following the way of the wise men — eyes looking up.

The snow’s lying still, bright.

The moon hangs, an ornament, in all these trees that have thrown off their coats in joy of the season — the joy of His coming.

And all the world tonight —

It glows this wonder in the dark.:::

“Celestial Word, proceeding from

The Eternal Father’s Breast

And in the wend of ages come

To aid a world distressed.”

~Short Breviary




edited archive


Louie Giglio’s How Great Thou Art @YouTube and Part 2