October 26, 2009
Lift your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one, and calls them each by name. Because of His great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing. Isaiah 40:26
Bryce is famous for its unique geology of amphitheatres, mazes and spires called hoodoos shaped out of colorful limestone rock in southern Utah. Ponderosa pines, meadows and spruce forests border the rim of the plateau on which the park is situated. At an altitude ranging from 6,000 to 9,000 feet, Bryce has about 200 miles of visibility and a panoramic view of three states, and offers some of the world’s best air quality. Those features, along with the fact that there are no nearby large light sources, make Bryce an ideal spot for stargazing.
According to the park’s website, two-thirds of Americans can no longer see the Milky Way from their own backyards. Truly dark locations are becoming a rarity as light creeps steadily across the U.S. Parks are beginning to realize they need to preserve the black, untainted night sky for future generations, just as they safeguard our country’s more earthbound treasures.
Bryce Canyon took up that challenge nearly forty years ago, and is now a leader in night sky protection and appreciation. Rangers and volunteers present astronomy programs from April to October, and the park hosts an annual astronomy festival every June.
In the Traveler article, Ranger Randy Dunning says astronomers estimate that a person gazing upward in an urban area might see about 200 stars. At Bryce, a stunning 7,500 of them are visible.
Joe has always regretted that when we were out in Utah several years ago we didn’t go to Bryce. It would have been a real treat for our daughter Mimi, who at that time was very interested in astronomy. Oh well…guess we’ll have to go back!
As I read this article on Bryce Canyon, the above verse in Isaiah immediately came to mind. Each one of these stars has a name, I marveled. What intimate care and thought on the part of a loving and creative God! Such power! Most of us cannot even see even a tiny portion off all there is to see in the night sky, and yet God sees and knows each and every one of them!
David wrote, “When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars which you have set in place, what is man that You are mindful of him, the son of man that You care for him? You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor. You made him ruler over the works of Your hands; You put everything under his feet…” (Psalm 8:3-6).
How I thank God that out of all the infinite number of things He created, He still remains mindful of me! I can hardly wrap my mind around that concept. As David puts it in Psalm 139:6, “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.”
I hope the awareness that God knows your name and everything about you, and loves you more deeply than you can ever imagine is a source of great comfort to you. And that you will join with the chorus of saints down through the years, who echo David’s conclusion in Psalm 8:
“O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is Your name in all the earth!”