From the Desk of the Federation Executive Director: With Gratitude (7/30)

I wouldn’t call my desire an obsession. Let’s use the term “dream.” For years, I have been wanting to go to Cherry Springs State Park. Have you heard of it? Located in Northwest Pennsylvania, about a two and a half hour drive from Binghamton, it is one of only a handful of places on the East Coast of the United States certified as a “Dark Sky” by the International Dark Sky Association. This park does not have great hiking trails or a beautiful body of water to explore. In fact, there is nothing there but a large flat clearing on top of a mountain and a berm separating it from the parking lot. The attraction is the night sky. If you are lucky enough to be there on a clear night, you can see all the stars and planets in our Milky Way Galaxy. 
If you grew up in a rural area, or perhaps spent your summers at a remote sleep-away camp, you have probably at one time seen a sky full of stars. Unfortunately, as our cities grow, the light from our homes, buildings, cars and street lamps light the night and block our view of the treasured starry skies. I am grateful there are parks and communities that are dedicated to preserving the dark skies. 

For me, the desire was to see the heavens. To be in awe. To be reminded of the vastness of the universe and the vastness of God’s creation. So, in mid-July, during the new phase of the moon, we made the trek to Cherry Springs. About an hour after dark, the show began. Slowly the sky became crowded with twinkling lights and the glow of the Milky Way. We spent a few quiet hours staring up at the sky. The glory of our universe, God’s universe, was everywhere. The stillness of the night gave my soul peace. The beauty of the glittering canopy was a reminder of God’s grace. What a blessing to be a witness to such majesty and to know that we are all connected to something larger and greater than what we see around us every day.