Last week, the newspaper said that it would either be the greatest meteor shower ever, or it wouldn’t happen at all.
I’ve always been a fan of outer space, so anything that happens up there gets my attention. When Saturn is in the evening sky, I pull out my telescope to study its rings. The five moons of Jupiter always capture my interest. I’ve studied enough full moons that I could probably find my way around.
I never get tired of watching the International Space Station glide across the sky, even though I’ve see it happen hundreds of times.
Meteor showers are special. They don’t happen very often, so I’ve set my alarm for some time after midnight and stood in my yard a number of times. It’s often cold, and my neck hurts from staring straight up.
But it has never worked. All I get is a stiff neck and insomnia.
It’s probably because I live in Southern California, so there’s too much light. It’s tough to see many stars, much less a meteor shower.
But when my friend Will texted me about this one, I allowed myself to hope. There were two things that would be different about this one:
- Based on a mathematical formula, it had the potential to be the greatest meteor shower ever (or a complete dud).
- It would occur while I was above 6000 feet at a cabin in the mountains where there were no streetlights.
So at 12:30 AM, I bundled up and went outside the cabin. It was cold and crisp, and the loudness of the wind blowing through the forest was uncanny. Looking straight up, I could see the black silhouettes of the tree tops dancing against the star-crusted sky.
I stood there for about 10 minutes.
There were no meteors.
I thought, “OK, just one. If I can just see one meteor up here, I’ll be happy.”
That one never came.
Finally, I heard myself say aloud, “Well, that’s a disappointment.”
But immediately, I realized the irony of my statement.
I didn’t see any meteors, so I was disappointed. But that whole time I had been so focused on the meteors that I had overlooked the majesty.
Usually, the sky I see at home is black, with occasional stars perforating the blackness. But here, there seemed to be the opposite. There were so many stars that the night sky seemed to recede into the background.
I hadn’t seen that many stars since I was a kid, looking out the window as my parents drove through the Arizona desert in the middle of the night.
So here I am, focused on the most amazing scene possible and saying, “Well, that’s a disappointment.”
I bet I do that more often than I realize. I go through life looking for a unique event that’s exciting, but miss the everyday miracles while I’m doing it.
There’s majesty all around us – in nature, in our relationships, in our opportunities, in our faith, in our jobs, in our conversations, in our passion.
Meteors are great, but they’re so unpredictable.
Let’s enjoy them when they come, but not count on them.
Don’t miss the majesty.