Tonight we find ourselves in a place called Newfound Harbor, about half-way between Key West and our next destination, Boot Key Harbor (near Marathon). It is just a quiet place to anchor for the night, but I am once again amazed at the starlight out here, away from the lights of civilization.
I made an attempt last year to memorize Psalm 19, partly because it is a lovely poem from the Bible, and also because I need the spiritual reminder of the last lines, which read, “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.” But the first lines of the Psalm are thus:
The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they display knowledge.
There is no speech or language
where their voice is not heard.
Their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world.
Now, I know if my friend Howard reads this, astronomer that he is, he will think that’s just drivel, especially since it’s poetry, written to make simple things confusing. But we have this in common: a crick in the neck from staring and staring and staring at the sky. On the night sail to the Tortugas, I couldn’t get enough. I have a little red flashlight, a star chart and a great pair of binoculars, and I used them to find all sorts of things I’ve never been able to see before. There was no land anywhere, no light pollution, just the glowing band of the Milky Way like I’ve never seen it before. Perhaps Howard and I are awed for different reasons but even when we do not speak the same metaphysical language, the stars still speak to both of us.
Unfortunately, unless there’s a massive blackout, or one likes to go camping in Vermont or out to sea, the average person is not going to get to hear the voices of all the stars explaining what glory is because they’ve been drowned out by Edison’s wonderful invention. I hope Howard and Kristin get to take their daughters (given starry names, of course—Mira, Stella, and Lyra) out to the desert someday and follow their dreams as we have pursued ours, with this in common: to go where one can see—and hear—the stars without interruption. It is a worthy pursuit and I wish them well.