On December 21st, the evening of the winter solstice, Teresa and I wanted to see the Great Conjunction. The astronomical event where Jupiter and Saturn line up to make an impressive light in the night sky. While technically planets, many were calling it The Christmas Star. Around sunset that evening we realized that we wouldn’t get a good view from our house nestled in the woods – at least not the view we wanted. So we grabbed the dog and ran to the car, cameras in hand, headed for the best clear view we could think of – Bean Blossom Overlook. Upon arrival, we found that we weren’t the only ones to have that idea, as the parking area was full and folks were even parking along the roadside.
The hillside was dotted with groups of people with eyes cast towards the heavens, bundled under the crisp and cloudless sky. From our vantage point, the brilliant sapphire of twilight was framed by bare branches, as the sun dipped below the far hillsides revealing more clearly the star.
It was amazing to stand in awe of the universe with this collection of friends and strangers, gazing up to watch the great dance of our solar system. Some had cameras, some just wanted to see it for themselves. A celestial event that won’t be repeated in our lifetime or that of our grandchildren, or even their grandchildren.
As light faded and the star shine became brighter I was taken by the unity in these moments. The planets gathered, as did we, on the shortest day of our year. In the midst of all the world’s troubles, here we are – together in the great mystery of the universe. The moon rises and stars spin across our sky, and promise to do so again tomorrow, as the wheel in the sky keeps on turning (yes, it’s a Journey reference).
A friend reminded me that morning that the solstice can be a day of new beginning. A day of promise. A time of reawakening.
As we all gathered in the cold wind to watch the convergence, it gave me hope in humanity. We can unite under something as simple as a star in the sky, and marvel at the impossible grandiosity that planets could shine across the solar system to our spot on a hill in Brown County.
It was Teresa’s prayer for clear sky so that she could see this Christmas Star. I’m delighted that she got what she’d hoped for. It is both of our prayers for renewed hope, peace, and humanity. Whether you are listening from Brown County, or some other place around the globe, Teresa and I wish you a very happy new year, full of all the hope and beauty that the Christmas star can muster.