I step outside and look at the stars. The universe is massive away from the city. The canvas of stars are countless. That’s about the best I can do. Even the poet in me is silenced. But bathed in the immensity of it all, I am also struck by how close they feel out here.
The universe is both bigger and more approachable.
Maybe that’s part of why small towns are much more likely to be theistic. It’s easier on a back porch, in the midst of this, to believe there is something bigger than myself.
The moon is massive on the horizon. It’s waning or waxing (I can never remember which is which) but it’s still gigantic. I once learned in science class that this is an optical illusion and if I measured it in the sky above, it would be the same size.
Perhaps the real illusion is that we’ve gotten bigger than the moon and bigger than the universe because we’ve created enough crowding and compression and light pollution that the universe feels distant and manageable.
I’m not sure how these moments affect my teaching, but I know they do. This trip to Colorado is a pilgrimage for me. I am changed (or perhaps just restored) each year. I am reminded that the universe is bigger than the walls of my classroom.