“Papa, wake up! You have to see this!”
I fought my way out of a dream and gradually put the world back together. We were in a small cabin on the northern shores of Lake Michigan. The last few embers of the evening’s fire were winking in the fireplace. Must have been after midnight. My daughter pulled at my sleeve and whispered, “Get Mom and come down to the lake, quickly!”
We stumbled down the darkened steps, gripping the handrail by the path and emerged out onto the rocky beach. Stretched out above us were vast curtains of emerald green, flashing brightly and undulating as though moved by an unseen, powerful hand. The stars were so vivid they glittered on the surface of the lake and yet they paled behind this spectacular display of Northern Lights. My heart ached as I tried to absorb such incredible beauty. It was so grand, so beyond explanation or description. We hugged ourselves against the chill breeze and gaped, spellbound. Just that day we had reveled in our mighty plans – swimming, sailing, hiking, cooking. Now we knew we were impossibly small and powerless, irrelevant.
Maybe you remember the first time you saw pictures from the Hubble telescope of the vast expanses of space, the purplish clouds of stuff that turn out to be uncountable galaxies, each one of which would dwarf our Milky Way. If you have never seen these, click this: http://hubblesite.org/gallery/album/galaxy/magellanic_cloud/pr2006055a/large_web/
Try to imagine how much bigger the universe is than the small slice of it you are seeing. If our solar system was superimposed on that picture it would only be a tiny speck. Stand on a midnight shore and look up into that picture. Let your heart be still and stretch your imagination. Try to “see” that deep, that far.
Now, read this:
Do you not know? Have you not heard? Has it not been told you from the beginning? Have you not understood since the earth was founded? He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth, and its people are like grasshoppers. He stretches out the heavens like a canopy, and spreads them out like a tent to live in.