when i was a kid my dad and me use to lay out on sleeping bags in the backyard and watch the stars- naturally it was more than merely watching the night sky- it was a time and a special way for my father and me to bond. of course, anytime you hang out with rick harbst you are bound to go away with some new knowledge, or factoid that you were not in possession of prior; hanging out with my dad is like chilling with an interesting (yet zany) encyclopedia (that has legs and arms of course). it was no different as a child of his. on those starry summer nights i learned about astronomy, greek mythology, and theology. if i was not already a lover of the night sky, i soon became one; however, i don't recall ever NOT being amazed by it...but then again i don't recall those first few times i looked up into space without my dad by my side. for me the heavens were, and are, a portal into the ancient world, a beautiful page out of a story book, a brilliant chasm of endless curiosities, and a vessel for awe and wonder at my Creator and his creation.
this past christmas the boys decided jesus was the brightest star in the night sky. i think it originated with the story of His birth in the manager, and the star that showed the way for the three wise man to Him. and while it's not theologically sound, as they sat perched by the huge windows in jons and mine room with the lights out starring up and talking to each other about how He was looking at them right then, it was just too darn cute to correct.
over the weekend we took off, got out of town, and went camping. there are a few things i didn't expect southern california to offer, one of them being, great camping, but lo and behold! i was wrong. we got to our campsite on saturday and left sunday-it was an one day wonder. the boys would have camped the rest of the month if it were possible (they said so themselves), but not knowing how socal'ers coexist out in nature we felt it best for our first go to be a short go.
we played in the creek that ran behind our site, the boys swimming where it was wide and deep enough, climbing over and around boulders that got in our way, and spying on fairies in a sparkling crevice of a trees raised roots; we set up our tent, wrestled on the air mattress, made a fire, roasted marshmallows over said fire, took walks around the campground, and star gazed.
jon and truman had already retired for the night but conrad and me weren't quite ready for our great day to be over. the fire was still crackling and we sat on some rocks positioned around the fire pit. dusk had turned pitch black within a walk to the restroom and putting our food into the back of the car. along with great camping i also wasn't expecting the night skies near or around southern california to be impressive, but lo and behold! i was wrong.
outlined by pines and giant oaks and hills was a dark canvas of countless bright and twinkling stars shining through. for awhile conrad and me strained our necks looking up at them, then we decided to lay on the hood on my car and use the windshield as our pillow. we made up constellations as i have since forgotten all but the big and little dipper, i reminded conrad how the scriptures say God measures the universe in the palm of his hand, and we mutually marvelled at how stunning it was. finding the brightest and biggest star conrad again made comment on that being jesus. i asked him if he really thought that star was jesus and he informed me he did not but that-that brightest and biggest star was like jesus. according to conrad, not only was it the biggest and brightest in the sky, but like jesus, it could see everything, even us.
now, instead of my father teaching me about the wonders of the heavens i have a five year old assisting me in seeing it in a very personal way. count me the most blessed star gazer there ever was.