As the sun sets, my twenty mile pilgrimage begins, out to the sanctity of dark skies, away from city lights. My favorite music prepares my mind as I pass the last yellow blinking light at a tiny community’s crossroad. To my right the last vestige of warm orange color is on the horizon, above it the atmosphere is deep blue; still visibly colored but translucent, blending to starlit black overhead. The ceiling of my sanctuary is studded with stars, my hymnal is my telescope. As I align the instrument, the silence here amplifies the sound of the cool night air gently rustling the leaves of a nearby tree, and I feel it waft across the fine hair on the back of my neck. A far away cricket’s song mingles with the fresh smells of the countryside. Now lined up for the Andromeda galaxy, I approach the eyepiece.
A converging cone of ancient photons ends its two million-year history of undisturbed flight as it impacts my retina. Here is direct, intimate contact with the Cosmos. The awesome disk spreads out before me, and I behold its five billion-star expanse. Captured in the stream, I imagine the nature of the civilizations which may well be navigating the stellar clouds of its spiral arms, and, inevitably, I wonder if any intelligent life survives the treacherous stage of growth we now traverse.
Feeling small, I steer to the Great Nebula in Orion, where gravity is gathering the clouds of hydrogen gas together to form young stars and planets. A higher power eyepiece penetrates fifty quadrillion miles down into the heart of the glowing vapor and dust. A microscopist now, I scrutinize the newly forming solar systems and feel more mature.
On the way home with a three-hour dose of ultra-reality suffusing my mind, I contemplate the supernatural things I once believed in as I searched for transcendence, and I wonder at how we constrain our minds to miss the grandeur of the Cosmos. What deities that humans have dreamed up could ever compete with the awesomeness of Reality discovered?