Starry night

It’s a clear-skied starry starry night, penetratingly cold, and I am at prayer, awe-struck as I gaze upwards. The slender new moon calls for my attention and delight, every bit as much tonight as it did when I was but a very small boy, and beneath this grand dome I know myself a very small man. Though the marvel of my capacity for contemplation and wondering seems great and wonderful a thing indeed, we humans don’t know as much as we would like to think we know!

Last evening I revelled in moving pictures of life in Jaipur, India – colour, exotic cuisine and candle-lighting prayer ceremonies beside the Ganges River – all beamed to a small tv screen in the heart of my home in England by innumerable wonders working together. India seems so far away – a culture largely beyond my imagination and outside my personal experience to date, like those of Asia generally, and Africa, the Americas, much of Europe, Australia, and Antarctica.

Huge continents to my little eye – as the cottage garden must appear to the field mouse living in our wood store – yet for all the infinite variety and diversity upon earth, it’s a little planet “just” 8,000 miles in diameter, floating for the past 4.543 billion years in a universe whose proportions humankind is really only just beginning to contemplate and “measure”, warmed and illuminated by a burning sun 92 million miles away. Oh, and look! – there’s Betelgeuse in the constellation of Orion, 642.5 light years away from earth, with a diameter of approximately 850 million miles – about 1000 times greater than that of the sun.

And in these awe-struck moments, craning my neck and gazing up into the mystery, and the silence, and the little groups of stars that I try to count but always end up lost amongst, I sense it may well be that the most important thing that our evolving humankind needs to fine-tune is our sense of perspective – before, in taking our tiny selves and our limited opinions too seriously, we do ourselves too much more damage.

4 thoughts on “Starry night

  1. This makes beautiful reading. Such comfort in knowing that the universe carries on and on and on, in spite of everything. We can’t change it, but we can change ourselves by loving each other, however small we are.

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    1. Yes. Absolutely. That was one of the striking things about the various human encounters we saw in Jaipur – I loved the gentle greeting – “Namaste” – shared almost routinely, but always with a smile. Yes, small things make valuable difference to life, even against the backdrop of enormity beyond our ken. 😃

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  2. I love this, Simon, and love even more that we were both gazing up at the same waxing crescent last night. Nothing like a night of stargazing to put everything back in perspective. We are but one cog in a mighty wheel, and yet we can make such a difference in our little orbits. Sending hugs across the miles….

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    1. Thank you for sharing this, dear Lori. Last year a dear and valued friend of long-standing died – who used to say, over many years, that she could feel close to me – and to other friends and loved ones – by “looking at the same moon”. When parting we’d often say “see you tonight” – and now, across what seems a greater divide, still do. Yes. Little cogs. Big wheels – in earth and in the heavens – but hugs across distance, and what I think of as “connection-communion”, are life-sustaining nourishment for our souls. Hugs for you, too, and thanks, as ever x

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