I was walking by the kickball field, just before passing “Ranger Rock” in front of the early-teen boy’s Ranger unit. I was in a particularly good mood, but I can’t remember why. It’s entirely possible it was about a girl, but I don’t think it was… I just remember thinking about how beautiful it was out there in the dark as I walked back after duty as a Camp Norwich Counselor in Training. One of my favorite parts of this job was getting to walk around camp at night with everyone asleep.
I saw the sky above the kickball field where the trees had be cut to make room for our games- this was where we always set up the ‘poo slide (as in sham-poo, not poo-poo). I was always fascinated when I could walk back by starlight without a flashlight at night. In Florida where I lived, there was so much light pollution you could never even see that there were so many stars, but here there were literally millions. I took a slight detour and just walked up to the softball field and laid down in the grass to look at the stars.
I’ll never forget how close they looked. It was almost as if I had an 18 foot ladder, I could climb up and touch one; they looked that close. I also remember that there were so many, and I could see that some were closer than others. There was a depth to the sky that I had never seen before; I could see that there were stars both closer and farther than the milky way clearly visible running through like a fractured streak in black obsidian.
It was as if I could sense everything. I could smell the grass and the wildflowers around me. I had never smelled grass just growing… I only knew the scent of grass when ground into my jeans playing games in the yard. But this smell was the scent of growing, living grass- and I felt as if each breath synchronized my growing and living- even if only partially or hazily- with the earth beneath me. I felt a unity, a peace, that came with voluntarily submitting to be resting against the earth that I would one day eventually become.
I don’t remember any specific thoughts, just a feeling of total awe. I also remember being surprised at the tear that I felt roll down my face- I hadn’t felt it sprout, and just like the stars I seemed to be able to feel every individual molecule of water and salt my tear left in a trail on my face. I could feel molecules of cold air bouncing off of my eyes and passing through my nose into my lungs, where I could sense individual molecules of oxygen sticking to and being absorbed by the alveoli. I pictured in my mind the illustrations from science books at school since I hadn’t ever seen them myself, but I felt them- individually- enriching my blood with oxygen.
I remember praying that night, and just thanking God for the beauty of creation. That he made it so beautiful for us to enjoy I thought was a nice touch. Some say that things are beautiful to us because we need them to live, that the beauty is a biological drive making itself appealing, but I don’t think of drinking water as beautiful, though it’s the most important substance to my life. This was the thing beneath the water- the truth under all the realities and science of it all. This was the deeper thing that we can’t see unless we decide to look for it. Like those 3-dimensional pictures made of random dots, you’ve got to be willing to see it, to stop focusing on what’s there, and look beneath it… and then the depth of the invisible can be seen.
This was the first night I ever experienced the bigger reality under my daily reality. The real world beneath the caricature we interact with daily created by our assumptions and groupings. This is when I first understood that if you slow down to see the world, you get to actually see the world itself.
This was the first night I sensed the Truth under the facts.