I experienced something completely brand new last week.
We took our family camping at a West African game park. I’ve camped a lot in the States, but this is the first time I’ve ever been camping in Africa, under the African sky, in a really remote location. No city lights. No electricity. No paved roads. No leaving the campsite without a guide in a vehicle or with an armed guard on foot. Hippos and elephants nearby in the river. Lions hunting on the other side of the rocky ridge that sheltered the campsite.
In some ways, it was surreal, like something you’d only see on a television show on one of those nature-documentary type channels back in the States and I had to keep pinching myself to make sure it was really real... Yet in other ways, it really felt a whole lot like “regular” camping with our gang back in Michigan.
Want to know one thing that was totally, vastly, drastically different?
It seems kind of funny to see those words… to hear myself think them… For, no matter where in the world you and I stand, we gaze upon the same sun, the same moon, many of the same stars and constellations, the same celestial bodies…
Not since I was a child growing up in the plains states do I remember gazing up at such an open expanse unbroken by trees or buildings or telephone poles or something. And even back then, the stars never seemed quite so numerous or the moon so bright thanks to electricity surrounding or if even not in the immediate vicinity, it was always just over the next hill or distant grove of trees.
Watching… staring… at the sky was nothing less than remarkable.
The sun appeared closer, bigger, and brighter than ever before. The moon was full and so bright even my ever-becoming more and more night-blind self could see clearly to walk to the bathroom without a flashlight. For those essentially cloudless nights, the sky appeared a dappling of stars almost blending into white clouds here and there, rather than the sometimes sparse, sometimes smattering of bright pinpoints of light I was accustomed to viewing. Both sun and moon shared that expansive space on opposing horizons, morning and night.
But what was most remarkable was discerning, for the first time in my life, the path of those cosmic bodies traced across the sky. It was unmistakable: early evening. The sun was setting in the west and darkness deepened; juxtaposed, the moon was rising and myriads of stars were appearing just peeking over the edge of the eastern skyline. I was riding on the roof of the Land Cruiser with several kids, hoping to spot animals as we cruised along park trails. Late into that night, “tracking” a group of lions, spotting mongoose, honey badgers and several deer like creatures, I also noticed the moon and stars, previously low on the eastern horizon constellations, had migrated overhead. In the wee hours of the next morning, as we sipped coffee by the fire in that coldest dark which arrives just before sunrise… getting the gumption to coax sleeping littles and teen biggers out of bed for a final animal quest, those same heavenly bodies had completely traversed the sky and quickly submerged out of sight below the western horizon.
Weary from combating several successive seasons of fatigue and burnout, this gift reminder granted and given God’s creation refreshes my spirit, heart and soul.
Viewing life as only a pattern of day and night, one after the other, monotonous and numbing, even purposeless, in its repetition - while real and valid, is truly a matter of perspective.
Thankfully, perspectives are not written in stone and they can change.
A different, altered outlook proclaims such cycles revolutions ~
• of openings and closings…
• of pushes and pulls…
• of starts, diligences and finishes…
• of arrivings, continuings, migratings, traversings and departings…
• of beginnings culminating in endings sparking new beginnings…
• of opportunities mixing with impossibilities…
Perspectives can not only change; their contrasts can also compliment. One can help bring the other more starkly into focus, just as the moon on one side of the sky highlighted the sun’s brilliance in reflecting light emanating from that opposing horizon.
I have a feeling that 2013 will be a year of changing old, worn and wrong perspectives, at least for me.
I hope it will be a year of recognizing and renewing complimenting ones as well.
How about you?