Look to the Stars
"This is thy hour O Soul, thy free flight into the wordless,
Away from books, away from art, the day erased, the lesson done,
Thee fully forth emerging, silent, gazing, pondering the themes thou lovest best,
Night, sleep, death and the stars." -- Walt Whitman, A Clear Midnight.
If you live in a city like Philadelphia, then you probably don't see many stars in the sky due to the light pollution. If you go to a rural or less populated area, let's say the mountains of west-central Pennsylvania or a secluded beach in Costa Rica for example, you'll see thousands upon thousands of stars. If you know what I'm talking about, you know that it's an awe-inspiring sight. It helps to put one's place in the universe in perspective. It reminds us to respect the greatness of God.
If you live in a city like Philadelphia, then the lights that dominate your vista are those shining from the skyscrapers looking out in all directions. In Europe, the highest structures in cities are the tops of cathedrals and churches, symbolizing the precedence of God over the life of the city. In Philadelphia, up until 1987, the highest structure was City Hall, symbolizing the precedence of the government (which respected religious liberty) above the preeminence of any one particular religion.
If you live in a city like Philadelphia, connected as we all are to our internet-ready cell phones and our thousand-channel tvs, then the lights we see at the end of our day are the lights of those devices, showing us what other people are thinking or doing.
Do you see how things have changed?
If we see no stars -- and thus have no daily reminder of the humility of our existence -- then what becomes great? Is it corporate America whom we respect or fear, to whom we worship? If we are glued to the thoughts and images of others up until our last conscious moment each and every day, of what have we robbed our Soul? the themes it lovest best: night, sleep, death, and the stars???