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Night skies seem to bring me closer to God

Night skies are maybe as close as a person can come to God. If you’ve ever rolled out of a sleeping bag in the mountains at 2 a.m. you know what I mean.

You can turn away from a campfire and look at the skies, but it’s not the same as getting up in the dark after you’ve been asleep a few hours. The stars can be so close it seems you could reach out and grab them. If the moon is up and anything bigger than a sliver you have a blazing nightlight to go potty by.

I kicked myself for not making the time to go out where it was dark with a view of the northern horizon this past week and view the aurora borealis or northern lights. The next day there were dozens of photos online of folks in eastern New Mexico who had been able to capture the phenomenon, which is rarely visible as far south as New Mexico.

I have actually seen them once, years ago on a hunting trip with my brother-in-law and nephew. We were standing around the last embers of the campfire my nephew had managed to fall into earlier, when I noticed a glow that I hadn’t noticed earlier. We wondered if it was the lights of Roswell, but as we watched for awhile it became evident that the light was dancing and shimmering above the horizon. It wasn’t a fantastic show by any means but it did make you feel pretty peculiar seeing the show with no warning.

When I was about 10 I remember my grandmother getting me out of bed at 4 a.m. one morning to watch for a comet. I did finally see it with the naked eye and watched it through my granddad’s old binoculars. I don’t know that the sight of it was that fascinating but the memory of my grandmother waking me up to share it with me is still special.

My late wife and I were avid skywatchers when it came to meteor showers. The first time we saw one together we were on a blanket in our back yard being eaten alive by mosquitoes when the most brilliant one I’ve ever seen flashed. We both saw it and it was so bright we wondered if maybe we had seen a UFO or something.

We regularly left the city lights after that during the fall Perseid meteor showers to watch. One night we even had a dog wander up to us in the middle of nowhere and beg my wife to take him home. We named him Comet of course.

The best night of meteor watching was when we lived in Colorado. The Perseid was supposed to be the best in decades, so at peak we went out to a place called the Crown to watch. We got pads and blankets and laid out under the stars for hours that night. Years previously, John Denver described a meteor shower he had witnessed just a few miles up the valley as “raining fire in the sky” in his song “Rocky Mountain High.”

That night I understood what those lyrics meant.

Yes, shadow from the starlight is softer than a lullaby.

Karl Terry writes for Clovis Media Inc. Contact him at:

[email protected]

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