- Ada, Oklahoma


October 20, 2010

Grace, God, and the Milky Way

Ada — There is a long debate in Christianity about grace and faith versus works.  I am all for grace and faith, but, as has been noted since very near the beginning, faith without works is dead. 

Don’t get me wrong, God’s grace is all around us all the time but it takes faith and work and study and maybe even a good set of binoculars to see it sometimes.

About a year ago, I took the bulk of my family on a trip down to Paraguay to spend a month on the other side of the equator as a teacher in our PSU in Paraguay program. 

While I was there, I saw the Southern Cross and Alpha Centauri — celestial objects that you just can’t see from our latitude.

That was a starting point.  It planted a seed in my mind that there were some things in the night sky I could see from my own back yard — like the Milky Way, for example — which I hadn’t seen since 1995.

The seed planted in Paraguay in July emerged from the ground in January in Kansas and, like anything that would attempt to flower that time of year, the cold weather got the better of it. 

It was cold; it was icy; I was weak.

There were some good reruns on.

In the summer, the weather was warmer, and the TV was worse, but I discovered that the light pollution even in a small town like Pittsburg drowned out the light of the Milky Way. 

I even made a trip to visit my brother down in Oklahoma who lives in a place so remote that God has to use GPS to find him, and it rained the entire time I was down there.

Then one evening the lights went out in my part of Pittsburg, which improved viewing greatly, and if it hadn’t been for the light of the full moon — it was the size of Rush Limbaugh’s belly, I swear — I would’ve had some great viewing.

This was frustrating, but frustration can produce learning.

In order to see the Milky Way, you need to be out of the city; the moon should be new or down or at least thin; and you need to have the weather on your side as cloud cover is obviously no good.

It became clear to me that my idea I could literally just step into the back yard and see the Milky Way was a little naive.

Some things are just not available on our own terms.

If I was ever going to see the Milky Way again, I would have to plan ahead.  I would have to be on the lookout for a time when the weather was good and there wasn’t a big moon.

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