New Beginnings

Of poets, scientists, and stars.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Different ways to know a star

I was laughing at myself today while I allowed myself to be in the middle of two other Panthesits discussing astrophysics.  I'd naively wondered aloud why the night sky isn't solid stars since there are so very many stars and the light travels so far.  Honestly, it was an innocent question. 

Well, my much more studious and scientific friends, Mark and Alain, flew into a debat about Obler's Paradox, how light diminishes at a rate of distance squared or something like that and all sorts of scientific yackety yack that honestly wasn't clicking on too many of my neurons.  You might assume I would have felt inferior.  Actually, I just got a bit tickled.  First of all, it's very rarely that I find myself in the presence of greater nerddom.  And secondly, I really wasn't looking for a scientific answer, I was just wondering at the awesome nature of stars.

It's pretty common for Pantheists to get into scientific discussions.  That's ok with me.  But I don't need to know how many gazillions of miles away the next nearest star is, I just am amazed that stars are. 

It reminded me of one of  my favorite poems by Robert Frost, Choose Something Like a Star.   Like Frost, my friends wanted to know something of the star, some facts that we can perhaps, "Learn by heart and when alone repeat."   And it's true, I think, that we need something to "Stay our minds on and be staid."

But some Pantheists, like me, are in such wicked awe of the Universe, just the idea that stars are, is more than enough for me to know that God is.  Nature is.  When I sit on my back steps for hours watching an endless single-file parade of ants march by, I am in a classroom and I am in a temple.  I learn, I worship, I wonder, I am.   

I love my friends, the scientists. I know they love just looking at the stars as well.  Perhaps it's just a factor of them being smarter than I am (though I doubt that).  Perhaps it's because they are men, and men seem to always want to find concrete answers when a question is presented.  Silly!  Or maybe the difference in our way of seeing stars is due to the fact that I'm just  more childlike in my awareness.

I can't say that my friends' way of thinking is more factual.  After all, what is a fact today is an antiquated idea tomorrow.   I doubt that I will ever know a star more for knowing more measurable facts about it, anyway.

When I was very young I could sneak out and lie on my back in the soft, green Midwestern grass and watch the sky's nightly show.  Some nights I was lucky enough to count falling stars, while chewing on clover, the background music provided by crickets and unseen treefrogs.  Sometimes if you're truely blessed, knowledge just sort of bypasses your head and goes straight to your soul.  That is what I need to know of stars.

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