By Jenna Ebener
I was standing in the back of a pickup truck in Haiti. As I held onto the railing, I leaned my head as far back as I could and gazed up into the endless night sky. Being in an area with no electricity, I was blessed with one of those rare moments where I could catch a glimpse of the vastness of the universe God has created. I was awed by the innumerous stars and the depth of the sky. I could have stared at that sky all night and not have gotten my fill of God’s creation.
While that night in Haiti was my most memorable night stargazing, it has been one night of many spent staring up at the sky. My stargazing has taken many forms with many people. I have always gotten a deep sense of community from stargazing, especially with others. I love hearing others’ favorite stargazing experiences and how they are often correlated with God and making connections with others. Whether those experiences took place in a pickup in Haiti, on a tarp in the Colorado mountains or on the trampoline in my backyard in Illinois, they always bring me a sense of peace. There is something unifying about realizing that millions of people could be enjoying the same sky I am. No matter where we live, we can see the night sky and know that we are all a part of this world. We may have different beliefs, cultures and languages. We likely will never meet. Yet, we all are a part of this beautiful world.
Our world is so small compared to the seemingly endless universe God has created. It is small enough that our actions are impacting more people than we can possibly imagine. How we treat strangers, how we interact with people we pass in the street and how we respond to our family and closest friends especially after a stressful day all have a ripple effect that only God can see. Since we are all created in God’s image, he is in each and every one of us. Just as God personally created every star in the sky, he made each of us individually and for a purpose. He knows which of us will meet and when. He knows what we are meant to do and who we may influence. He knows when we will fall and when we will stand back up.
I have lately started to seek Jesus out in those I interact with, especially when I start to become stressed or irritated. It is an interesting lens when I attempt to take out our human flaws and purposefully look for Jesus in others. I start to truly look at people, see Jesus in action and wonder where God is leading them. The beauty that is in each of those stars is in each of us; it is up to us to recognize that beauty in each other. “Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one and calls forth each of them by name” (Isaiah 40:26).
(Jenna Ebener graduated in 2015 with a Master of Social Work from St. Ambrose University in Davenport.)