Last week at Camp Hiawatha, I had the opportunity to lead a stargazing devotion with the high school age L.O.S.T. campers. We wandered out into the middle of the ballfield after the sun had fully set, as the stars and planets were coming out in the night sky above us. We were wrapped up in towels, sleeping bags, and sweatshirts against the mosquitoes and the chill, and there was a bit of rustling around as we settled in and got comfortable on the grass. But the rustling quieted, small annoyances and distractions faded into the background, and our focus turned to the stars and to this verse:

"To whom will you compare me? Or who is my equal?" says the Holy One. Lift your eyes up and looks to the heavens: Who created all these? God who brings out the starry host one by one and calls forth each of them by name. Because of God's great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing. Why do you complain, Jacob? Why do you say, Israel, 'My way is hidden from the Lord; my cause is disregarded by my God'? Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. God will not grow tired or weary, and God's understanding none can fathom. God gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young people stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint."

Isaiah 40:25-31

If you live in or near a city, you know how hard it is to see the stars at night. Light pollution pushes the brilliance of the stars into the background, and many of them fade into invisibility. They pass unnoticed, dimmed; we are distracted from the beauty and vastness of the stars by the glare of so many garish earthly lights. Camp is one of the places where we can escape light pollution and see the stars for themselves. It is also one of the places where we learn that God has created and called each and every single one of us lovingly by name, exactly the way that we are.

Who is pushed to the fringes in our lives? Which people have been obscured by "light pollution" and other distractions? Who gets talked over, interrupted, or ignored? Are there voices and faces in our communities that are invisible, unnoticed, unheard?

Think on this: How can we listen more deeply, not necessarily to have an answer or a response every time, but to gain more understanding? How can we tune out, get away from, or remove the distractions that get in the way of connecting with and fully loving God and other people in our lives?

God's peace,

Michelle Hofeldt
Communications Coordinator and VLM Summer Staff