By our Travel Contributor, Alex Gonzales
Growing up in the city, skyscrapers and streetlamps blinded me from the stars. I hated it. I could never understand why the world would continue to obstruct such beauty. I can recall nights when I would lay in the grass of the football field of my old middle school and squint my eyes to see the stars. I could not see them but I knew they were there, and that presence was enough. I would look up into the nighttime wondering why, wishing silly wishes, and always wondering if someone was looking up, too, thinking of me. The stars were my little therapists of the sky. And I demanded answers.
This summer, there came one of those nights when I placed all my problems on the stars. I could not shut my mind up. I became restless and impatient. However, I remember someone told me that when I am in those kinds of situations, keep asking, “Why?”
Why was I not getting answers?
Why were the stars not listening?
Why was I even placing all my problems on these innocent twinkles?
Why was I even worrying? God knows all my problems, what more did I need?
Beginning with the stars, one by one, I learned that creation does not ask to be questioned. It begs and it pleads to only love those in its presence. A tree does not aim to grant wishes, but it is strong and steady, and it aims to comfort us from the heat, the storm, and the trials. A country does not ask to only have its touristy sights seen, but requests to be treated ethically, to have its local inhabitants satisfied, for its incomers to feel its natural and transformative experiences it has to offer. The skies, the lands, and the countries…they all have a lot to offer. I sometimes think it is a sin to stay in one place for so long because ignorance will grow like weeds, and the world gives something priceless to humans: love.
This idea that the world gives love is not solely an idea for the earth but carries into the supernatural. The world has taught me more about the supernatural love of the Eucharist than I ever imagined possible. When we kneel down in Adoration of the Eucharist, we should not treat Our Beloved like a therapist, but as the supreme lover and comforter of our souls. Take the phrase of “He knows us better than we know ourselves” literally, because it is literally true. With that in mind, give yourself time to rest, to reflect, to absorb Jesus’ love, and to let Him transform your heart. Shut your mind and open your heart.
Saint Francis is a beautiful example of this. We may associate him with those statues in everyone’s gardens where there is a bird on his shoulder, animals around him, but when you read his “Canticle of the Sun,” the reader gets a sense of what he was really about. The entire canticle is St. Francis praising nature because in it, he finds the Lord. The time St. Francis spent outside in nature deeply transformed his love for Jesus Christ; let that be us as well.
Bring God praise through immersing yourself in the world around you, the nature around you, and the travels you take. You might find yourself in a land with stars as endless as grains of sand on a beach or you may find yourself in a city that masks the brilliance of the stars. But remember: they are still there whether you see them or not. Look at the stars or even just a single star and wonder, become awe-struck at the love God pours out on you. Every night, look up to the sky and embrace His love. Let the stars gaze upon you because you are a being far more brilliant and illuminating than they could ever be; let them transform you. We need to let life transform us, not the other way around. The way we treat the sky above and the lands beneath us is a testament to our love of Jesus Christ.
Take a hike, watch the sunset, play in the fallen leaves…then go to Adoration, and I promise, life will make sense.