Look Up

Eve, by David Robinson

Eve, by David Robinson

The nights have been bitter cold and clear. The cold always seems to make the stars sharp like crystals. Standing on the back deck, looking at the stars, I remembered a conversation I had years ago. I was working with students and we strayed into a discussion of human beings connection to the stars. It was cosmology in a nutshell.

Here was the gist of the conversation: something happened to human consciousness when they (we) understood that our patterns of life on earth were (are) oriented to happenings in the sky. For instance, our impulse to worship is intimately connected to the solstice and equinox: the disappearance and return of the light. Our migration habits, planting habits, daily rising-and-shining habits are relative to the movement of the sun. The tides in the ocean and the waters in our body are responsive to the pull of the moon. With the awareness, we crossed a line from chaos to order, from unconsciousness to consciousness. There was a relationship, a pattern, a belonging, a participation. There was something bigger.

During that same period in my life I also worked with a group of inner city students who had never seen the stars. It was a revelation for me. For them, there was no sense of relationship, there was no “something bigger.” There was a load of anger and existential separation.

This holiday season, I was struck by two things: 1) how many times I had conversations with people, glued to their televisions, who are frightened and feeling helpless by the happenings in the world, and 2) how many casual family photos crossed my path featuring a gathering of individuals, alone together, faces to smart phones. Everyone was looking down.

Standing on the back deck on a dark and starry night, wrapped against the cold, I wonder what some distant teacher in the future will tell his or her students about what happened to human consciousness when they (we) ceased looking up.

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One Response

  1. Bingo!

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