Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Look to the Stars


Human beings look to the stars. We always have, always will.

That becomes clear even more in a year like 2020, when the world is caught up in a pandemic that's reached global health crisis levels. We have what's dubbed "the great conjunction" of 2020, when Jupiter and Saturn are closer than they usually are and can be seen by the human eye. While these large planets align and near each other every 20 years, they aren't often this close and even less often are they able to be viewed by the naked human eye.

Sure, this happens every 20 years to some extent. But before 2020, the last time the two planets were this close was in 1623... and even then, that alignment wasn't visible to the human eye. It was way back in 1226 the last time this happened and could actually be seen.

Think about that for a moment... almost 800 years.

That's simply amazing.

Think back eight centuries ago, to March 4, 1226. This was during the High Middle Ages period, about a decade after the Magna Carta had been signed. The Crusades were ongoing, with the Sixth Crusade just about to start in order to recapture Jerusalem.

Hell, that's remarkable to think that before 2020 the last time we experienced a similar celestial event would've been back then, so many centuries ago...

Family History Reflections

Looking at this from a genealogical POV, my own Hoskins and Hoskyns lines weren't even born yet with those surnames. Chances are my long-ago ancestors were then known by the surname Osekin, which historical accounts note came after the Norman Conquest of 1066 when some of my ancestors were a part of that.

They went on to become the Hoskyns, were associated with Robert the Bruce of Scotland and all that good Braveheart lore. And so on into Herfordshire England, eventually leading to Bartholomew who changed the name to Hoskins in coming to the New World in the 1600s.

Roughly four centuries ago in 1623, the last time this "great conjunction" happened like this, that was before America. Pre-colonial times, just a few years after the famed Pilgrims made their way to the New World and settled here in Jamestown. My own genealogy tells of Bartholomew Hoskins, the first-ever American immigrant who came from the prominent Hoskyns line in England and was in his early 20s at the time.

Did he look up at the night sky on that July 1623, thinking about the entirety of the cosmos and how we're all connected worldwide? That despite the challenges and horrors of those early years in this new land, how he had survived and was starting a family?

Then again, the "great conjunction of 1623" wasn't even visible to the human eye... so it's not even something that could be seen, if Bartholomew had wanted to look up and had known to be looking for something special.

Who knows what ancestors from the 1220s were doing at that time, and if they happened to look up at the stars to reflect on everything larger than ourselves... it may have been cloudy that night back in 1226, for all we know.

Keep the faith

Thinking on all of this, the phrase "keep the faith" comes to mind. While the Bon Jovi tune by this name is a good one, it's not what I'm referring to here. No, instead this is based on Christian faith.

This celestial event may have been what's referred to as the "Star of Bethlehem" in the nativity story from the Book of Matthew.

In my own Bible readings, that passage has so many interpretations that it's difficult to not look at it now, in the 21st century, with a combination of both astronomical fact and human faith factored into the interpretation.

Could the "Star of Bethlehem" been in the sky on Dec. 21, 2020? Even though it was cloudy here in Southeast Michigan without any visibility, does that mean an experience 800-years in the making was ruined? Does it mean one can't find their own faith, their own beliefs, their own fears and hopes and loves and reflections, in the mind beyond those clouds?

Maybe we can see what this "Christmas Star of 2020" is guiding us toward, just like it was guiding those Three Wise Men way back when. There's endless speculation and belief on what the Bible says and whether that "Christmas Star" as a real astronomical event or a God-offered vision... but if it were up to me and my Bible reading, I'd go for a mixture of both.

That star alerted the magi to the birth of Christ, prompting them to make the long journey from the East. But whatever may have happened back then, the symbolism and guidance for our own lives now can be a deeper meaning.

Despite all we've endured in 2020 collectively, there is a cosmic light in the sky. It can guide us toward something, even if it's physically clouded in the sky and can't be seen with our own eyes. We can feel it, we can focus our heart on what it's leading us toward.

That hundreds of years after this last appeared as it does in the sky, we are connected to each other -- past and present, and the future. Our planet has lived this long, and it's our duty to ensure it lives on so that future generations can experience these astronomical events — and reflect on them, in whatever ways they choose.

It's our duty as humans, being the descendents of those in the 1600s and 1200s and before then, to continue our life on this planet. We must guard Earth, and not self-destruct.

Those are the lessons I take from this "Christmas Star of 2020," even if it was too cloudy in my corner of the world to physically see it.

I can look to the heavens, use my mind and heart, and know where it's leading me. And us. Together.


Rick Phillips said...


It was not visible on the night of 12/21 here in Noblesville. But we had a really nice look at it on the 22nd. I am told that binoculars make it look even better.

Have a great Christmas Mike.


PS: in 1600 my family was the same place they were in 1700, 1800, 1900, 2000 and will be in 2100. Jail of course.

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