Since we found a snake in my daughter’s bed, I thought this week would be a good week to write about something wonderful we’ve noticed after moving to the country.
We used to live in the city limits. A big city. This city manages a lot of green space with cows and horses scattered around, sometimes within blocks of sky scrapers. Since my twelve-year-old daughter got a telescope a few years ago, we’ve spent a little bit of time looking at the stars. We’ve enjoyed meteor showers and various other events. I’ve spent hours laying on the grass looking up at that sky and desperately wishing I was a night person.
Then we moved to the county. Every morning, as I get in the car to take the teens to seminary (a scripture study class for high school aged children), I can’t help but gasp at the stars. It’s stunning.
According to the National Geographic about 2,500 stars are visible to the human eye, but only 200 are visible from the suburbs and less than a dozen from any typical city. I had no idea. In the city, I could find the North Star, I could see Orion’s belt. I could see the dippers . . . that’s really the extent of my knowledge, anyway. I didn’t miss the stars I couldn’t see.
I have wondered if there are other aspects of my life in which I am “seeing” and understanding the 200 star version instead of the 2,500 star version. In this Twitter/YouTube world, we frequently get the 12-star version and assume we know enough to make a judgment, comment, and share our ill-informed outrage with the world. How many of our opinions would change if we could tear away some of the haze clouding the issue and see more of the context? How much time and effort does that take?
In what ways does my culture, my background, my religion, my country, and everything about me cloud my vision? How limited are my senses? What have I gotten used to that is limiting me?
How powerful it is to admit you don’t know everything!
There have been all sorts of crazy medicines and sciences that were accepted as truth. In ancient Greece it was believed that the liver pumped blood, not the heart. Doctors didn’t understand germs and the importance of hand washing until the 1860’s. We’re all familiar with the erroneous idea that the earth was the center of the universe. I wonder how many of our current assumptions will seem just as crazy once we have a more powerful microscope, or a different perspective. We know so little about the human brain, the ocean, and especially each other!
It is with other people that I most notice my lack of vision. We talk with someone for five minutes and we think we know. Or we just see someone and their clothes and hair and we think we know.
After all a person can clear away of all that is limiting their perspective, we still see little.
Even in the country with our fabulous view, we are seeing such a microscopic percentage of the 300 billion stars just in our solar system.
I believe in a God that “telleth the number of the stars; he calleth them all by their names.” (Psalms 147:4). Do we debate with people with our 200-star perspective against their 200-star perspective when we have the option of seeking truth from a God who numbers and names stars in the billions?
Britt grew up in a family of six brothers and one sister and gained a bonus sister later. She camped in the High Sierras, canoed down the Colorado, and played volleyball at Brigham Young University. She then served a mission to South Africa. With all of her time in the gym and the mountains and South Africa, she was totally prepared to become the mother of 2 sons and soon to be 9 daughters. By totally prepared she means willing to love them and muddle through everything else in a partially sleepless state. She is mostly successful at figuring out how to keep the baby clothed, or at least diapered, though her current toddler is challenging this skill. She feels children naturally love to learn and didn’t want to disrupt childhood curiosity with worksheets and school bells. She loves to play in the dirt, read books, go on adventures, watch her children discover new things, and mentor her children. Her oldest child is currently at a community college and her oldest son is going to high school at a public school. She loves to follow her children in their unique paths and interests. She loves to write because, unlike the laundry and the dishes, writing stays done. Whenever someone asks her how she does it all she wonders what in the world they think she’s doing.