Sunday, February 25, 2007

Communion with the Infinite

Friday night I was out camping about 50 miles southeast of Atlanta. The lack of any nearby big cities made for a very impressive night sky. While most of the scouts and parents were busy trying to make the biggest fire possible a few of them noticed the sky and stopped to spend a little time with me looking through binoculars at the wonders above us. Even these few soon got a little bored at just staring at the sky. I was soon left alone to gaze into the heavens at my own speed.
Wanting to take advantage of the evening I tried to find a few celestial objects besides the typical, Orion, Ursa Major and Ursa Minor. With my binoculars held steady by leaning against a tree I looked to the northwest and found the sideways M that identifies Cassiopeia. From there I looked a little to the west to find the constellation Andromeda. Just above the trees I found the couple of stars that form a very narrow V. Just to the right of that V should be the Andromeda Galaxy. I focused my binoculars and then shielded my eyes to prevent any stray light from entering. After a few minutes of patiently staring my eyes adjusted and the hazy light slowly reveled its spiral shape. Andromeda Galaxy is over 3 million light years away and it is one of the closest galaxies to our own Milky Way. The photons that were entering my binoculars were sent on their way 3 million years ago. I was literally seeing this distant galaxy how it appeared 3 million years ago. I was literally gazing into the past.
David O McKay defines spirituality as "..communion with the infinite." I'm sure that most people would interpret this with closing one's eyes and bowing your head. I find the same level of spirituality when I open my eyes and look up.

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