The International Dark Sky Association designates particular places in the world that have night skies so dark you can see the Milky Way Galaxy, planets, and stars you’ve never seen before and even Aurora Borealis. I visited the Dark Sky Sanctuary in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area this week, the largest dark sky sanctuary in the world. It is a place where the sky is so dark that you see things you’ve never dreamed possible in the night sky. Being there made me wonder, do we need our own personal dark sky sanctuaries to gain clarity and see things we had not imagined possible? Where is your personal “dark sky sanctuary?”
An example of designated dark sky sanctuaries includes:
- !Ae!Hai Kalahari Heritage Park (South Africa)
- Aotea / Great Barrier Island (New Zealand)
- Black Gap Wildlife Management Area (U.S.)
- Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (U.S.)
- Cosmic Campground (U.S.)
- Devils River State Natural Area – Del Norte Unit (U.S.)
- Stewart Island / Rakiura (New Zealand)
- The Jump-Up (Australia)
Yet, the question here is, where do you go to gain clarity? To see things in a new light? Think and reflect? Where is your place to look up, pause in wonder and let your thoughts sift and sort until you gain new insights. Perhaps your place of clarity is:
- Your garden?
- On your front step or porch?
- Your favorite path in the woods?
- A place where you engage with your spiritual or religious practices?
- That lake or river that sings as you watch the rapids swirl?
- The beach at an ocean or great lake?
- A favorite painting at an art museum?
- Your quiet corner at home?
- With a best friend?
Once you identify your sanctuary for clarity and quiet, take a deep breath. Go there. And then, let the silence wash over you and your thoughts crystallize and gain clarity. If you are alone, focus on the “brightest” stars/ideas to help you get clarity. If you are with a friend, listen, reflect and discover the galaxies of insights together. If we shut out the noise and bright lights of every day life, we can often find our “dark sky” sanctuary. It is a place where things become clearer, brighter, and calmer.
As I listen to my clients this month, there is still quite a bit of anxiety about returning to the workplace and schools. In fact, I taught a group of Educators this weekend and the tension they were feeling about returning to school was palpable. They were stressed and anxious about the changes and unknowns ahead. People returning to work and post summer rhythms are also feeling the stress of “what will this fall and winter bring?”
I keep thinking maybe we just need to visit our own “dark sky sanctuary”; a place we can go be to find clarity and calm for the coming year.
Perhaps one of the ways we can support each other this year is to create space for each other to have a personal “dark sky sanctuary.” Perhaps we can give the gift of time to a friend or colleague, listen more deeply, provide resources through places like Donors Choose or just encourage colleagues and community members to take some time off in their sanctuaries. Maybe together we will see things we never saw before that will give us all new insights into how to proceed into the coming year.
Where’s your “Dark Sky Sanctuary?”
If you want to find out about how you can create real dark skies in your neighborhood here are some great ideas.