• Liz Ullery Swenson

Marching the Stars


Each August my family and I head up to Mt. Rainier to see the Perseid meteor shower. This year it's supposed to be extra spectacular and as we prepare to make our annual trip I thought I would share this reflection I wrote for the Brethren Press bulletin series in 2015.

“So—who is like me? Who holds a candle to me?” says The Holy. Look at the night skies: Who do you think made all this? Who marches this army of stars out each night, counts them off , calls each by name—so magnificent! so powerful!— and never overlooks a single one? —Isaiah 40:25-26, The Message

Each August, during the annual Perseid meteor shower, my family and I head up to Mount Rainier National Park in our home state of Washington. Once at Paradise, the park’s main visitor center, we are positioned at about 5,400 feet above sea level, and on a clear night the expanse of the night sky is astounding. Equipped with binoculars and a thermos of hot chocolate, we lie on our backs on a picnic table and look up. Waiting with bated breath for our eyes to adjust, we hope to be the first to see a star streak across the sky. Once the first one is spoted, they come quickly. Sometimes they come in twos or threes, others with long minutes in between. Each time we squeal with excitement and astonishment, as we lie there watching God march the stars out across the night sky in procession.

It is this quiet, surprising darkness that Barbara Brown Taylor talks about in her recent book, Learning to Walk in the Dark . Taylor guides us through a journey in finding God—and hope—in the dark places, and reminds us that “darkness is not dark to God; the night is as bright as the day” (adapted from Psalm 139:12). To God “darkness is as light,” so when we stand near the top of Mount Rainier it’s impossible not to see the night sky as God does. It is an expanse of light all around us! The moon alone casts shadows and illumines the pathways between the trees. On a particularly clear night we can see the Milky Way, and as we look up at the creamy clusters of stars, moons, and other planets, we are reminded of the magnificent grandeur of this world and the universes around us. Seemingly infnite yet so intricately made. As we lie on our backs, wishing on shooting stars, we are reminded how precious and intricately made we are. Creations of God, called by name and never overlooked.


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