I arrived, checked in, and unloaded all my stuff. At dinner, I talked with a man who gave me two important pieces of advice while staying at the ranch. First, he told me the moon set at about 3:30 am. Second, he shared how he had become dehydrated during the week (he was leaving the next day after staying at the ranch for a week). After describing his experience, I decided I was going to drink plenty of water!
His first piece of advice was important because I had brought my telescope. The telescope was in my sabbatical proposal so that I could connect to God through his amazing universe. In my proposal, I would be taking the telescope out West, which I did. I had not planned on bringing it to Ghost Ranch, but since I had it, and Ghost Ranch had some fairly dark skies, I decided to bring it.
This week, the moon is going to be a problem. When the moon is out, and bright, stargazing is more difficult. Since I knew the moon set at 3:30 am, I set my alarm for 3:30 am so I could get up and do some stargazing. As you know, 3:30 am is pretty early…but it was worth it.
Here is one of the pictures (unedited) that I took of the milky way:
Because there isn’t much light pollution, the stars are amazing. There was some light pollution because the Ranch does have lights around so people can see at night, but the closest city is about 40 minutes away. The skies are pretty dark.
After spending a while taking pictures and looking at open clusters, globular clusters, nebulas, etc., I spent some time trying to sleep before heading to the dining hall for breakfast.
The rest of the morning I spent writing about some of my sabbatical journey learnings. I don’t know if any eyes other than my own will ever see it, but who knows. I’m sure some of what I’ve learned will show up in sermons at some point.
The afternoon was spent reading about Evagrius Ponticus, sin, guilt, spiritual growth, vices, virtues, and how it interacts with cognitive science. Who knows, perhaps this will show up in a sermon at some point. One can only hope :D
Throughout the day, I would look out over the horizon, bask in the glory of God’s beautiful creation, and recognize how God good God is…even though I don’t deserve such goodness. God has always been good. God has always been good to me. Sometimes, I forget. Sometimes, I look past God’s goodness.
This sabbatical has afforded me time to slow down…wait…no…it has afforded me time to stop, look around, and see God once again. It has enabled me to connect with his goodness and grace, which have always been there. It has helped me to remember.
At times, we move so fast that we no longer can see. It’s like we are trying to look at the ground through a car window as we travel 60 mph. Things speed by so quickly that we don’t see them, everything is a blur. We know stuff is there, but we can’t really see until we slow down.
What would happen if we made there was time to slow down? What might we see? What might we remember?