Thursday, March 24, 2011
The full moon that graced us last Saturday was spectacular. It was called a "supermoon" because it was 14% closer to earth than usual and 20% brighter. Although I missed the moonrise at 3 p.m., when night came, it filled the sky with bright light. To gaze on such a wonderful sight was awe-inspiring. The photo above is by Joe Sarno.
Such amazing natural phenomena remind me that the universe is vast and varied. I was watching "Nova" last night and was reminded that there are billions of stars in our galaxy, the Milky Way, and billions of other galaxies. The show was on the search for earth-like planets that might have life.
When we are too absorbed in our own concerns, problems and issues, phenomena like the "supermoon" serve to get us outside of ourselves and open our eyes to the fact that what happens in the universe isn't always about us. There are forces so much vaster and complex that we struggle to comprehend them-- things like black holes, dark energy and subatomic particles.
A story in Genesis tells of Abraham worrying about how the promise God had made that Abraham would be the father of a great nation would be fulfilled. In a dream, God came to Abraham and told him, "Go outside your tent and look at the stars. Your descendants will be as numerous as these."
Sometimes, we need to get outside our metaphorical tents and look at the night sky. Then, we can realize that there are things much larger than ourselves, that the universe doesn't revolve around us and that we are part of a vast and wondrous universe brought into being by a benevolent Creator.
Wednesday, March 9, 2011
The season of Lent is traditionally a time of giving up something enjoyable like candy, alcohol, favorite foods and the like. I've done this in years past and have found it to be a helpful way of practicing self-denial, one of Lent's themes.
However, a few years ago I tried a different way of observing Lent: taking on a new spiritual discipline. One year I focused on gratitude and reflected each morning on something I was thankful for. Another year, I observed 10 minutes of silence each day. Lately, I've observed Lent with more active spiritual disciplines like meditative walking or reflective stretching.
Whether you give up or take on something isn't the most important thing about Lent--strengthening your spiritual connection with God is the key. Doing those things in our daily life that helps focus our thoughts and feelings upon the holy and sacred dimension of life helps keep us centered and grounded.
I'm not sure yet what new discipline I'll take on during this Lenten season. I have a few more hours to figure it out. Maybe I should give up procrastination!