The starry host

Two weekends ago, I had a spontaneous urge to go to the Griffith Observatory. But by the time I checked the website, I read that I would miss the first show at the planetarium, and only the first show allowed kids under five. Clearly, I’m not a planner.

So a few days ago, when the summer-like temps seduced their way into Southern California (my apologies to, well, the rest of the country!), I packed my entire family into our beat-up Civic and headed north to Los Feliz. I didn’t foresee how busy the parking lot would be, and we barely made it to the planetarium’s first showing with literally minutes to spare.

The room darkened. We settled back in our theater seats. My heart was glad, knowing it was my kids’ first time in a planetarium. (I’m also a nerd.) And the domed ceiling gave way to a tapestry of stars.

We miss what’s up above, because we’re too enamored by what’s below

Tapestry is an apt word to describe the night sky. Ancients used other words like firmament or canopy. In a time unpolluted with man-made lights, the sky was stuffed full of stars, as if a paintbrush was dipped into a bucket full of stars and spread across an inky black curtain. All of those stars gave the sky the look of a thick, dark blanket, dotted with pinholes, keeping the earth warm and cozy. I had a couple of chances to see the sky like that: once on Mt. Rainier, and the other in the mountains between Kazakhstan and China.

Both times filled me with awe.

But now, because many of us live in cities that give off its own light, we can’t see the sky as it was made.

It made me think: sometimes we don’t notice the majesty of creation, because we’re blinded by our own creations. We miss the vast heavenly array, because we are fine under our incandescents, halogens, and flourescents. We miss what’s up above, because we’re too enamored by what’s below. What we create often keeps us from seeing who has done the creating from the beginning. What we make of the world often keeps us from the acknowledging the Maker of the world.

Sometimes, we just need to unplug, disconnect, hang up, shut down, and just plain turn off some things, so that we can find things like awe, wonder, and worship again.

What is one way you can unplug this week? Consider a week-long fast from all non-work internet activity, including social media. Or a week-long fast from movies, music or a particular form of media. Let us know what comes of it.

View All


  1. Jen Huerta Ball January 23, 2013 at 5:06 pm

    Liked this post, James, a LOT! I agree that we deeply served by having a chance to connect with God through real experiences/encounters with creation. Adopting a a discipline of regular unplugging is a great way to make space for those experiences. Glad to hear the trip to the observatory was fun. I have lived in So Cal my whole life and have never been there. Perhaps it’s time to change that!


    1. Jen, it’s great to hear from you! And yes, it’s a great find: more up-to-date than I would’ve expected. Blessings on you!


  2. Thanks for the reminder, James! It’s crazy how often we miss the splendor of God around us. I remember the lyrics of an old contemporary Christian song, “… it’s like playing GameBoy in the middle of the Grand Canyon, it is like eating candy in the middle of a gourmet feast… what’s the deal with me? wake up and see the glory…” anyway, thanks again!


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.