Et itur ad Astra

20 09 2006

nebula.jpgWhen I was younger, I used to stargaze a lot – wandering around the yard (the garage, actually), head thrown back until my neck ached, my mind filled with an incredible sense of wonder as I contemplated the innumerable points of light softly glowing in the infinite reaches of space. Take a look at this picture of the Horsehead nebula and imagine being able to look up on a clear night and see this with the unaided eye – what do you feel?

With time, I learned the names of the various constellations and could spout astronomical facts when prompted (and when unprompted…something I look back upon with great embarassment).

But then a funny thing happened: I lost the sense of wonder. I blame it on learning the constellations…or more precisely, on learning the names of the constellations with the intent of impressing girls. Ravi Zacharias wrote about this phenomenon in his book, Can Man Live Without God?, saying that when we learn about the world around us with selfish intent, we lose the sense of wonder that prompted us to learn about the world in the first place.

And I mourn this loss…the loss of wonder. I think that I would trade a goodly portion of wisdom just to be able to look at a single star and feel small as a result. In this respect, I envy Pablo Casals, the great champion of violoncellists; in an interview made when he was nearly 95 years old, he mentioned something about being reduced to tears by the simple, almost mundane beauty of a single flower.

A number of people (myself included) were once in a hurry to grow up – I for one desired this because I was always the youngest in any group I found myself in (I’m still the youngest teacher here in school) and I was (is) tired of always being treated like a baby. But looking back…could it have been possible to grow up…and still feel an intense longing to reach for the stars?

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One response

12 07 2007
Reveal Me The Secret

Very interesting post there! Keep-up the great work…

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