The Olympics, Mars and another disappointment

Those of you who follow this blog might have noticed that I haven’t added a post for a couple of weeks. There are two reasons for this. First, the High Holy Days are coming and I’m starting to work on sermons. The more important reason is that I love watching the Olympics and haven’t been able to concentrate on the blog while the games have been on.

I know a lot of people are cynical about the Olympics for many legitimate reasons.  But, I love them. The dedication of these athletes is incredible and while  part of me feels that it is unhealthy for anyone to be so dedicated to one discipline that it pushes everything else away, there is a bigger part of me which sits in awe watching the talents and the abilities of these people. The raw emotion, winning and losing, the pride in one’s country, the competition excites me. And, I also love to watch sports I might not otherwise see: archery and fencing have both fascinated me this time around. So, watching the games has taken away from my writing time.

I also have been paying very close attention to the landing of the Mars Rover Curiosity. I know we’ve seen pictures of Mars for the past 30 years but I still find the pictures amazing and the entire question of whether there is or was life on Mars is fascinating. What constitutes “life”? What would the discovery of such “life” mean to our self-image as human beings? These and so many other questions are of such deep importance to all of us and feeds into what should be a natural “curiosity” about or own lives. I am in awe of the individuals whose knowledge and daring have made this part of the space program and all of our efforts in space so remarkable.

But, in the title of this posting, I used the word “disappointment”. Last night was another in a long, long line of disappointments for me and I’m not talking about the Red Sox. Last night, for approximately the 30th year in a row, I failed to see the Perseid Meteor Shower. As I’ve pointed out before in this blog, I love to watch the heavens. But, this highlight of the astronomical year, which I have longed to see for so long, passed again with a cloudy sky in our part of Michigan.

Saturday was a cloudy, dreary day until late afternoon. Then, the sun came out, the clouds started to break up. I took our dog Sami for a walk at about 7 p.m. and there was more sun than clouds. Then, about 9:30, I saw the stars start to come out. We made plans to wake up at 1 a.m. and drive to the country to watch the sky show. About midnight, I woke up and went outside and- sure enough- the sky was completely cloudy. I woke up again with the alarm at 1 and there was no change. At 3:30, it seemed it was partly cloudy but the Northeast sky, where the meteors “originate” from was completely overcast and I gave up. When I woke up at 5:30, the stars were out in force but it was too late to drive anywhere.

The meteors are still visible tonight but we expect an overcast sky. Another year of disappointment.

This has been the story for me for so many years: clouds, rain, forgetting to mark the date on the calendar, too much light and not enough time to get far enough away, you name it, I’ve missed it.

So, yes, I’ve been disappointed. But, considering the blessings I have in my life and considering the miraculous things I’ve seen both as part of the human spirit and through scientific and technological advancement, I can be patient for another year.

God willing, it will be clear and I’ll be there to watch.

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