If you follow my column, you know that I’m pretty starry-eyed about my wife, but I also get starry-eyed about God’s world, too. And last week, I got the chance to combine both loves.
I finished seven lonely weeks of temporary duty with the 152nd Intelligence Squadron in Reno, Nev., when I decided to invite my wife to join me for Reno’s famous Hot August Nights, the largest classic car event in the U.S.
I guess she was lonely too, because she drove three hours through the Sierra Nevada mountains from our Sacramento home.
After oversleeping Saturday morning, we spent our afternoon overeating and looking at old cars. Since Becky’s a crooner fan, I popped for tickets to the Frankie Valli tribute show. After the show, I was contemplating our next entertainment venue when my smart phone calendar pinged a reminder of the annual Perseid meteor shower.
Near penniless from the overpriced casino show, I saw the reminder as divine direction. After all, the annual shower has entertained earthlings for at least 2,000 years. So we ditched the dimming wannabe starlets and the manmade lights of the “Biggest Little City in the World,” grabbed our dog from the hotel, and drove 20 minutes southwest to a trailhead on Mt. Rose
We stepped from our truck just after midnight and before our passenger compartment lights faded off, we saw our first meteor scratch the night sky. With the giddiness of celestial prospectors, we scurried into our truck bed, wrapped ourselves in blankets and posted our puppy for guard duty.
During the next 75 minutes, we watched pebble-sized icy droplets rip the heavens open like a zipper. We counted 50 of the little sky-scratchers as they drew straight lines across the moonless sky at a perky 18 miles per second. It was as if God was busy sketching architectural plans for another universe.
We “ah’d” and “ooh’d”and “whoa’d” like children watching a circus act, and at times, we jumped in startled wonder as if we’d had an ice cube dropped down the backs of our shirts. We had spent our day wowing over classic cars, yumming delicious food, and humming the oldies, but nothing manmade matched the stunning show God gave us by flicking frosty slivers across the night sky.
At the end of the day, I couldn’t say that God had skipped fiery rocks across the sky as a personal message just for us, but I can say that there was something to be heard that night. For even though the streaks were silent, my wife and I spoke only in whispers as if fearing that somehow we might not be able to hear God’s voice. Even Toby Dog was quiet.
“Does God really talk to you, chaplain?” you may ask.
No, not in audible tones. But I must say in our mountaintop moment, nothing ever sounded so sacredly wonderful. It was as if I could hear the planets spin, as if I could hear myself aging, and as if I could hear the clouds greeting each other. I held the hallowed moment in my heart and heard the scripture, “Be still and know that I am God.”
We’d started the evening hearing the Frankie Valli singers croon “Oh What a Night,” but it was God who made sure that it was!
Norris Burkes is a syndicated columnist, national speaker and author of No Small Miracles. He also serves as an Air National Guard chaplain and is board-certified in the Association of Professional Chaplains. You can call him at 321-549-2500, email him at about:about:[email protected], visit his website thechaplain.net or write him at P.O. Box 247, Elk Grove, CA 95759.