The first two nights kept the stars hidden behind a thin veil of clouds, so it wasn’t until the third night of sleeping among the red rocks and dark skies that the stars came out in such an impressive display of cosmic beauty as to evoke the pensive state of mind in which I found myself. I was surrounded on all sides by orbs of light, suspended in an oil-like darkness.
These lights had traveled for millions of years to shine on me for some brief fraction of a second before being absorbed into the spectrum of color. The red dust below absorbed most of it, but some small part was sucked into me through my eyes and somehow recognized as the immensity of space.
There, laying on the hard, rocky surface, I was wrapped up in a blanket of celestial lights so immense that I could feel myself being lost in the sheer grandeur of all that surrounded me. That feeling of being lost brought with it a consciousness of how easily our lives can drift by us.
I realized that everything we had done that weekend, every trail, every smile, every sunset, all of it was drifting away from me and from reality into some other realm of the past. By tomorrow, everything might as well been a dream. I would have pictures to prove that it happened, but those would be images of ghosts, depictions of times that have already passed away and drifted out of my life.
I can’t go back to the beauty of the first desert sunset I saw on that trip. None of us can return to the excitement of leaving home for the first time or to the thrill of a first kiss. All of those singular experiences are gone, never to be repeated and the scary part is that though for now we think that these days are endless and our opportunities unlimited, they are, in fact, quite numbered. And with each passing day, that number grows smaller and smaller.
Sometimes you can almost feel life slipping through your fingers. You can see what you want be, how you want to live and who you want in your life, but you don’t know how to get there. It’s like being covered by that starry blanket so large that you cannot find the edge. You’re a little child again, lost among the layers and folds of fabric on your parents’ bed, trying to escape but finding yourself too small or too weak to lift the blanket off. The air becomes warmer as you strain for the coolness of freedom. You begin to thrash about as panic sets in, not knowing if you will ever escape.
But then, with a final kick of your leg and flick of your hand a flash of light appears again. You uncover your face and immediately your heart settles as your fear flees. Cool blood pours through your veins as your rushed breaths return to normal. You realize that despite all the fear and panic that overwhelmed you, everything is okay.
So it is with the stars. Their light can arouse a sort of confidence in what the future may bring. They are out there, the glowing lights of the city of God, spread out over His grand creations, ever reminding us of His hand in all this magnificence. The vast expanse of the desert sky can bring out our fears and our worries. But its beauty, order, and grandeur can just as well inspire such a sense of awe as to seemingly whisper to us that everything will be fine, and then gently coax us to sleep, just as any good blanket should.