One of the first things I do every morning before the sun rises is put on my eyeglasses and gaze at the early morning sky through the sliding glass doors in our dining room. To get the best view, I keep the lights off in the house while I admire the stars. I look for hints as to what kind of day it might be. Is the sky cloudy or clear? Can I see any planets? Is the moon visible? If the stars look crisp and clear, it’s probably below freezing. If the sun has already begun to lighten the edge of the sky, I’m running late. After I’m done eyeing the heavens, I’ll flick on the light and see what the thermometer reads.
I have needed eyeglasses since I was in elementary school, but did not want to get them. For some reason I thought wearing eyeglasses would be a horrible thing (maybe it’s because of those cat eye glasses my sister used to wear). For years, I never told my parents I was having trouble seeing. I would ask the kid who sat closest to me what was written on the blackboard. I did a lot of squinting and even tried to memorize the eye chart in the nurse’s office in an effort to pass the eye exam at school. Eventually, I couldn’t fake it any longer; in eighth grade I went to the eye doctor and got a pair of glasses. I was wearing them in the car as we drove home when I realized, for the first time, that blades of grass and leaves on trees could be seen individually! Later that evening, as I looked at the night sky with corrected vision, I was shocked to see that stars actually appeared as small pinpoints of light, not spread-out, fuzzy orbs. This was such a revelation to me that I kept alternating between putting on my glasses and taking off my glasses to marvel at the difference.
Those of us living near the ever-present glow of streetlights and the local Walmart don’t get the opportunity to see as many stars as those living in more remote areas. We have to drive away from the suburbs to visit places with a more resplendent view. I’ve often imagined what the night sky looked like to the early settlers, or to the ancient mariners, or to the magi on their trek to worship Christ the King. The stars must have been intensely beautiful without the effects of industrial pollution and ambient neon. Although my early morning stargazing can’t be compared to those in history, I appreciate the view I do have when I look up at the sky to admire the heavens.