Rebecca's letter for July & August

Star gazing

A few weeks ago, there was a fascinating programme on the TV called Holst: The Planets with Professor Brian Cox. It was recorded in the Barbican Concert Hall in London with the London Symphony Orchestra performing this famous work, with Professor Cox providing an introduction to the music, with slides of the relevant planets and the latest space research into each one. There was one point where a picture of outer space showed the earth as a small dot.

It made me think about a story of the US President Abraham Lincoln, who used to take his dinner guests outside to look up at the stars for a while, before going inside for their discussions. Somehow, gazing at the stars and the planets put everything in perspective.

There’s a verse from Psalm 9 which says: When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him? I was thinking about this when I was on retreat in the spring: sitting on a deserted beach off the coast of Northumberland, feeling very remote from all the hustle and bustle of life down here, somehow puts everything in perspective. The beach was there long before I was, and we hope it will continue to be there long after I’m gone. There’s a sense in which we are just passing through this earth, our days are like grass... we flourish like a flower of the field... (Psalm 103).

And yet, God knows us intimately, and loves and cares for us, he knows every hair on our head, he knows us from before we were born. When there is so much that preoccupies us, that worries and concerns us about this present age, we do well to step back and ponder on our place in God’s creation.

There’s much talk now about how we may care for the environment, for God’s incredible creation. Let’s pause and ponder a while on its beauty and the wonder of it, while we can, and do our part to care and preserve it for future generations.

With every blessing for a happy summer!

Rebecca Harris