I am a bit draggy this morning, and for just half a minute I forgot why. Then I remembered; last night, a most deliciously warm and breezy night - my daughter and I spent an hour or so laying in the grass and looking up at the cosmos. She saw the Milky Way for the first time a few nights ago, and has discovered the fascination of star gazing. Anyway, we went out to meet the Perseids meteor shower, with great success. I lost count of how many shooting stars we saw. I wish my eyes were sharper, though.
It was such a night as makes the unholy heat of the daytime very much worth tolerating. I could have curled up and slept very well in the grass. I think I almost did. It's what I imagine the nights in Eden were like.
People rarely see the stars, anymore. We have cut ourselves off from nature, put her at arms length, and starve for beauty and the whispered voice of God.
My daughter observed at one point that looking at the heavens reminds us of how small we are. I gently countered that we are not small at all, but are exactly the right size... as are the galaxies and the trees and everything else. It reminds me of this passage from Chesterton, and I'll throw in a couple more, for good measure. Next time I go star gazing, I'm going to bring these to read aloud, slowly.
"Humility is the luxurious art of reducing ourselves to a point, not to a small thing or a large one, but to a thing with no size at all, so that to it all the cosmic things are what they really are — of immeasurable stature. That the trees are high and the grasses short is a mere accident of our own foot-rules and our own stature. But to the spirit which has stripped off for a moment its own idle temporal standards the grass is an everlasting forest, with dragons for denizens; the stones of the road are as incredible mountains piled one upon the other; the dandelions are like gigantic bonfires illuminating the lands around; and the heath-bells on their stalks are like planets hung in heaven each higher than the other." - A Defence of Humilities
"...if we could destroy custom at a blow and see the stars as a child sees them, we should need no other apocalypse." - A Defence of Baby-Worship
"Shall I tell you the secret of the whole world? It is that we have only known the back of the world. We see everything from behind, and it looks brutal. That is not a tree, but the back of a tree. That is not a cloud, but the back of a cloud. Cannot you see that everything is stooping and hiding a face? If we could only get round in front." - The Man Who was Thursday
(cross-posted at The League of Bearded Catholics)