Preaching on Epiphany today I reflected on my strongest memories of stargazing. I grew up in the country so as a child and youth I would go into the backyard (away from the street light) and look at the stars until I got cold or the mosquitoes were too bad. Several times I heard about various astronomical events (comets, planet alignments, etc.) and would set my alarm for 3 a.m. or some such thing to see. Once I did this on Christmas night, I think. I would put on my coat and stand out in the backyard to see what the stars were doing, then go inside and climb back into bed.
At sixteen I was camping with my family and church friends at East Bearskin Lake at the edge of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area and remember the night that was so clear and so still I could see the stars reflected in the water.
When Kelly and I got married we lived in a small farmhouse outside Winona, at the foot of the bluffs, and would go outside after dark and walk the dog down the lane past the trout stream which never froze. That was the winter of Hale-Bopp. It was beautiful, always perched above the tree that grew alongside the garage.
I shared these remembrances this morning as a way to talk about stars and the affect they have on us. It seems like a self-centered way to preach but I knew I was just jump-starting everyone else's memories of stargazing. And after church I heard where people go, and what they see, and where they went to see Hale Bopp.
Even in these days of urban light seeing the stars is a pretty universal experience, one that moves us all. They are up there tonight, with the half moon, shining above the urban glow.