Monday, September 28, 2015

Well Said and Worth a Thousand Words: Lunar Eclipse Over Dallas

Lunar Eclipse Over Dallas
taken by talented photographer and friend Kirsten Walquist
Last night we spent 3 hours watching the total lunar eclipse from the comfort of our back yard. The lights were out, the crickets were chirping, the dew was falling. Despite the nearby traffic on Abrams, we felt the mystery of the natural world come over us.

It's been a very long time since I've sat for three hours with no other occupation than to watch the sky.

We had long stretches of silence, punctuated by thoughts on the incredible regularity and predictability of the "cosmic ballet." How had this looked to the Druids? To the prehistoric people? What did we share with them, despite our advanced knowledge of the mechanics of the eclipse? Just thinking of these physical laws applied to our solar system, our galaxy, the ever-expanding universe gave me a headache and a profound feeling of awe.

I thought again of my favorite psalm, which usually comes to mind because of the first part which praising nature as God's voice. This time I thought about the praise of the Lord's teaching, his pact, his precepts. They apply, of course, to the scripture and our internal lives. In another light, in the way of poetry and the timeless depth of scripture, don't they apply just as much to physical laws — the movement of the stars, of the moon, of our own planet?

I submit they do. Last night they delighted our hearts, gave light to our eyes, and restored us to deeper life.

Psalm 19

(a combination of RSV, Knox, and Robert Alter translations)
The heavens are telling the glory of God;
and the firmament proclaims his handiwork.
Day to day pours forth speech,
and night to night declares knowledge.
There is no speech, nor are there words;
their voice is not heard;
Yet their voice goes out through all the earth,
and their words to the end of the world.

In the heavens he has set a tent for the sun,
who comes out like a bridegroom from his wedding canopy,
exults like a warrior running his course.
His rising is from the ends of the heavens,
and his circuit to the end of them;
and nothing is hid from his heat.

The Lord’s teaching is perfect,
restoring to life.
The Lord’s pact is steadfast,
it makes the fool wise.
The Lord’s precepts are upright,
delighting the heart.
The Lord’s command unblemished,
giving light to the eyes.
The Lord’s fear is pure,
outlasting all time.
The Lord’s judgments are truth,
all of them just.
More desired than gold,
than abundant fine gold,
and sweeter than honey,
dripping from its comb.
By these I, thy servant, live,
observing them how jealously!

And yet, who knows his own frailties?
If I have sinned unwittingly, do thou absolve me.
Keep ever thy own servant far from pride;
so long as this does not lord it over me,
I will yet be without fault,
I will yet be innocent of the great sin.

Every word on my lips,
every thought in my heart
what wouldst thou have it be,
O Lord, my rock,
my redeemer!

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