I’m writing from far West Texas, in the Big Bend, Davis Mountains area. We’re on vacation for these next few days and grateful to be out in nature.
One of the most amazing things here is the night sky. We take our lawn chairs out each night, and stare into the vastness of space above.
The entire hazy cloud of the Milky Way band stretches from horizon to horizon. The twinkling stars are so numerous that they are impossible to count.
For as many times as I have seen such a night sky, it never ceases to take my breath away, and it always makes me gasp with wonder.
It’s a view we can’t seek in Oak Cliff. There’s too much city light. Those stars are always there — even in Oak Cliff — but they’re obscured by the lights we tell ourselves we need to feel safe.
The vast, deep West Texas sky reminds me of our relatively small position in the entire universe. It’s a powerful reminder of how small we are. And, therefore, how small the problems and worries we carry around every day.
That Milky Way band knows nothing about our fears, our worries, our concerns. It’s there to humble us, if we allow it.
The Prophet Isaiah comes to mind: “Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one and calls forth each of them by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing.” (Isaiah 40:26)
I’m grateful to God for the gift of the night sky.
It’s summer now, and everything I am hearing about this season from our Oak Cliff families is that the time feels compacted and urgent. The school year has been compressed on both ends. With the world feeling safer to travel, a lot our neighborhood families are heading out during July and early August.
I’m glad to hear that. Maybe you were gone during July. Maybe you’re just leaving now, for a quick pre-school August trip.
Whatever your plans, I hope you can get out into the world this summer. And even if you can’t travel far, remember how blessed we are to have areas like Lake Cliff Park, Twelve Hills, Kidd Springs, White Rock and the Trinity River nature preserve. There are places, just minutes from your front door, that can take your breath away too.
Our minds can trick us. They tell us, “I don’t need to take a break … I can just power-through my job, my family obligations …”
But we must “get away” from time to time. If we don’t take breaks, then burnout, anger and hopelessness set in instead.
There’s a reason why the word “recreate” is a contraction of “re-create.” We must constantly “recreate” in order to create our future. All work and no play is not just sad; it can be dangerous and counterproductive.
All through history, those who’ve created new and innovating things in science and art have often done so after a nap, a walk among nature or after gazing in wonder at the night sky.
I am thinking of the late great Steve Jobs, who was famous for holding business meetings while walking through his Palo Alto neighborhood at night. Some of the greatest technological innovations and concepts of our time came from people who went on a walk outside in nature, with Steve Jobs.
After a pandemic year, cooped up in our houses, we all deserve a break this summer. Recreate so you can re-create your life, filled with new hope, energy and compassion.
ERIC FOLKERTH is senior pastor of Northaven United Methodist Church. The Worship section is underwritten by Advocate Publishing and neighborhood businesses and churches listed. Call 214.560.4212 or email [email protected] for advertising information.