Do I believe in spirituality?
That depends on what you mean by spirituality.
Death Valley National Park is just a two hour drive away from Las Vegas. In between the nights of bacchanalian revelry, we decide to spend one late afternoon driving as far as we can towards the national park.
On our way back, the sky begins to darken and by the time it is 7, it is pitch black. We decide to pull over on to the shoulder of the deserted road.
We step out into the chilly air and kill the lights and we look up towards the sky.
The desert sky is unaffected by light pollution. It is a cloudless night and the perfect time to be out looking at the skies. Even so, the sight almost knocks me off my feet.
I have never seen a more beautiful sight. There are more stars than I have ever seen before. They fill the entire sky. There are so many of them that the constellations that we can barely make out in our urban skies have all but disappeared. I can just discern Cassiopeia and Cepheus.
But the stars themselves. One needs no patterns to be awed by their beauty. And we can make out the individual stars that are relatively close to us. But in the distance, the stars are far away and so numerous that their light blends and they are blurred in the shape of a band. A great band that stretches from the north to the south of the entire night sky with a great rift in the middle. That is no ordinary band. It is the great spiral arm of our Milky Way galaxy.
It is a sight I have waited 14 years to see. I am speechless with emotion. It is perhaps the most beautiful sight I have ever seen. I look at all those stars and I think about our universe. About everything that it has gone through in almost 14 billion years. I think of the births and deaths of entire clusters of stars. The sheer scale of it all boggles the mind.
The immense stars of eons past that exploded spectacularly scattering their insides through the universe, seeding the creation of the sun and the solar system. All that matter from dying stars came together to form everything we know and see and feel and touch and breathe and eat. The sun, the earth, the moon, the trees, the rocks, the grass and us.
I look the all those stars and think about the civilizations that perhaps exist there, far beyond our detection. I think of those that might have already been destroyed and those that might still be created.
All the problems that we have ever faced seem to fade away. It’s beauty is indescribable. It is truly one of those sights that has to be seen to be believed. I stare silently for the better part of an hour.
As we reluctantly get back into the car, I realize that if that spectacular sight is what spirituality means, then I do believe in it.