“When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the star that you have established; what are human beings that you are mindful of them, mortals that you care for them?”
This small section from Psalm 8 is an excellent theme for summer (and just about any other time of year). It offers a perspective and question that we don’t ponder nearly enough in our lives of faith. We mostly want to approach God in a more personal way, in how God accompanies us on our journey, or why God seems to do this or that in our lives, or why God allows suffering, catastrophe or horrible pain, especially when disasters touch us in a particularly personal way.
We don’t offer consider why God should be mindful of us at all. It’s not that I think God is not mindful of us (because I believe that God is), but it’s worth a bit of our time and attention to consider the hugeness of the universe of which we are part and to allow ourselves to take in the notion that we are quite small in comparison.
It’s a good thing to take a moment for a little perspective and, at that same time to allow our minds to expand enough to wonder, to wonder in a big, bold way.
Have you ever found yourself outside after dark in a place that is far from city lights, on a cloudless night when you can not only see the stars, but the enormous and awesome grandness of the sky, with all its stars and planets, little dots in a velvety deep indigo sky, taking in not only the grandeur, but the wonder of distance and of otherness, that we exist on one small planet, sharing it with a whole bunch of very small creatures? If you haven’t, I suggest you give it a try.
What are human beings that you are mindful of them, mortals that you care for them?
Some years ago, when my son, John, was still quite young, we got up in the middle of a summer night. I forget what kind of event was going to be happening in the sky, maybe a meteor shower or something like that, but something was going to be happening in the sky, so we planned to go out well after dark to see what we could see. Long after the sun has finally set and the vestiges of light from that enormous ball of gas finally go away for a time, the clear night sky can be a truly amazing thing to behold. The stars look so bright, and there are so many of them.
In the ancient world, when the psalmist declared his sense of creation, way before there was such a thing as light pollution, the night sky must have been downright humbling. In the reality of the grandness and enormity of the universe, where do human beings fit? How can God truly be mindful of us, each one of us, when we consider the moon and the stars (and planets and galaxies) too?
It’s good to step back and at least try to gain a bit of perspective from time to time. It’s also good to allow ourselves to open our minds and hearts and to wonder, to wonder in a big, bold way. It’s a good thing to let go of all of those little things that crowd our thoughts and to access our capacity to wonder, to open ourselves to the grandeur, the immensity, the mystery of the creation of which we are one small part.
It’s summer. Get outside. And look up.