“Dwell on the beauty of life. Watch the stars and see yourself running with them.”
― Marcus Aurelius, Meditations
Somewhere, just somewhere between our atmosphere and infinity, there are stars, seven thousand of them to see by the naked eye. But they can only be seen from the right place. I was brought up amidst the dark Glasgow Clydeside tenements where life was in sepia tone and stars were what I read about in children’s books.
It was when I travelled to the Scottish islands in summer that I realised there lay a starlit sky. One has to get out of the city.
One icy Saturday recently, my wife and I booked into a hotel in Newton Stewart; a dark place, just what we were looking for. After our chicken bhuna and peshawari naan we set off to visit the Dark Skies at Kirroughtree Visitors Centre in Dumfries and Galloway. The place was as dark as…you know what I mean. Apart from a few lonesome stargazers, we were the only ones there. We took a walk to a quiet place and there we found ourselves alone with seven thousand stars, every one of them, albeit I never counted them.
So many emotions filled my soul: loneliness, awesomeness, wonder, and the knowledge I was staring into a distant past that no longer existed in the form I was observing. I knew I was not alone; sometime in 1000 BC, give or take a century, a shepherd boy sat on a hill at a time when the whole earth was a dark and free from light pollution and he asked the creator of all these stars a question,
When I consider your heavens,
The work of your finger,
The moon and the stars,
Which you have set in place,
What is mankind that you are mindful of them,
Human beings that you care for them?
Psalm 8:3-6 NIV
Interestingly, he asked the creator why he considers humans important. Why indeed.