Good Friday morning ...
A recent (July 20th) USA Today front-page article got me thinking about Tanzania. It really doesn't take much these days, having recently returned from yet another mission trip with TEAM TANZANIA 2018.
The article was about how artificial light is killing the night. Scientists call it light pollution, the interference of artificial light which prohibits the viewing of the beauty and majesty of the night sky. Of course, light pollution is everywhere there are gatherings of people who utilize artificial light of any kind. And, of course, the heavier the population in a given area, the more light pollution and the more difficult the viewing. While the artificial light brightens our immediate surroundings, allowing us to see in the dark, it dims the stars above, reducing our view, but not the stars themselves. The author of this article (Trevor Hughes) claims that people living in New York City, for example, can live their entire lives seeing fewer than a dozen of the brightest stars and planets. Bummer!
They (the scientists again) say that light pollution also interferes with our natural circadian rhythms, making sleep difficult even when our bedrooms are darkened. The thinking is that this light pollution has similar ramifications for plants and animals. Makes sense, right?
As a kid growing up in rural Norfolk County Virginia, the night sky was a wonder to behold. Living in the country, there was little artificial light so our night skies were ablaze with the wonder of a thousand stars. Camping under the stars with my boyhood friends, Mike and Calvin, was a special treat and we would frolic in the pastures and open fields, making believe we were night raiders.
But it was only when I ventured to Tanzania in the months of June and July and hiked to mountain tops to camp under the stars, it was then that I truly saw the advantage of having absolutely NO artificial light ANYWHERE. Lying on my back, tucked into my Timberline sleeping bag which I have laid out over the cushion of buffalo grass and gazing up at the night sky of the southern hemisphere is an absolutely marvelous experience. You might call it breath-taking. There is NO artificial light, not even the glow of a campfire, lantern, candle or flashlight. The nocturnal glow of the stars is magnificent!!!
From my view, lying nestled comfortably in my bag under the stars, the southern skies are filed with bright stars that would be hard to hide. They are everywhere, sparkling in glorious array. The north and south pointers, that is the Big Dipper and the Southern Cross, are high in the evening skies and can be used to mark the north-south directions quite well. Scorpius (The Scorpion) is easy to find as the dominant constellation at this time of year, with its three stars forming its tentacles, the red star in its neck and a long, winding tail that ends in a close pair forming the sting. The Milky Way is quite visible also with its dense concentration of numerous stars and dust patches that give it that milky, whitish glow, stretching from the southwest to northeast, passing through the Southern Cross and Sagittarius (The Archer).
It is truly a marvel to behold! And all of it visible with the naked eye. It's all so very beautiful, and you realize how small and insignificant you are in the grand scheme of things. You marvel, too, at the creative, magnificent power of God to have set all that in motion as He created the universe and set it all in motion.
The truth is, artificial light or not, the moon, the stars and all the planets are all in motion every night whether visible or not. It is good to be reminded that God made it, set the patterns of movement and still reigns over it with His mighty power. What an awesome God!
"God made two great lights --- the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. he also made the stars." [Genesis 1:16]
"When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?" [Psalm 8:3]
Have a great weekend ... and try to take a skyward look sometime soon where there is the least artificial light and behold God's marvelous, heavenly creation.