Interlude: Heyr himna smiður, performed by Schola Cantorum Reykjavicensis
Ever look at the night sky? Downtown, you might see a few stars, maybe a major constellation if the buildings aren’t too tall. In the suburbs, more constellations, and some galaxies if you have a telescope. But to really see, you need to take the extra time to drive out of town to a big open space, deeper into nature, into the desert, or to a beach out away from city lights. You need big sky to see the awesome swath of the Milky Way, and the magic of starshine from orders of magnitude more visible stars, no longer drowned out by light pollution, or obscured by buildings and trees.
One of my favorite memories of the desert night sky was doing a Messier Marathon. Messier was an astronomer who identified a little over 100 nebulae and galaxies. On just a few nights every year, you can see all of them in one night. You need clear skies from just after sundown to just before sunrise, a guidebook, a telescope, and it helps to have another astronomer along who knows what to look for. It’s an amazing experience.
Going deeper into meditation is a lot like observing the night sky. A quick five minute sit is good for you. It resets your mind, gives it a chance to collect itself and focus on God. A little longer, and your thoughts become even more settled, and your spirit emerges refreshed. But if you can make the extra effort, and carve out more time with the silence, you may find that your thoughts change. They scatter, leaving empty spaces for the God shine to come through.
As our meditation time increases, our detachment increases. Our thoughts gradually let go of the next few minutes, the plans for the day, the weekend, or the next social event. As the flurry settles out, you may find that the few thoughts still drifting by are clues. Clues to the conversation with God, the prayers, that you have been neglecting. Why are you still carrying that anxiety around? Leave it with God. Why haven’t you done something about that yet? Pray for God’s guidance and help. Reach through the gaps between the thoughts, reach for God, for peace, and hope.
And then, there are those eyeglasses. Meditation is a solitary endeavor, but by attending meditation groups like this one, by sharing insights, by sharing favorite books or poems or biblical passages or prayers with each other, by sharing inspiration and guidance from spiritual leaders like Thomas Keating or John Main, we can aid our vision, and see more God shine — in the world in front of our open eyes, and behind our closed eyelids as we meditate. In Ecclesiasticus, we read,
The glory of the stars is the beauty of heaven,
a glittering array in the heights of the Lord.
Indeed. Let us spend more time in meditation. Let us quiet our minds, deepen our listening, and extend our reach for God.
Delivered at Resurrection Catholic Church, April 6, 2019.