The night is cool and clear, a balmy 72°. Breezes barely ruffle leaves on the maple tree. A soon to be Blue Moon is nudging towards fullness. It will be a second full moon this month. It’s a perfect summer night – almost. The stars are missing. Well that isn’t exactly true. They really are there, but not visible. Why — light pollution. I haven’t seen stars in such a long time that I sometimes doubt that they are there.
Ouray, Colorado was our favorite vacation destination for 10 years. Mesmerized by the sky’s glistening beauty each evening we paused to absorb it’s majesty. When our granddaughter Elly was two years old she and her parents visited. At nightfall, our little band of family stood together looking up at the sky in stunned silence. Suddenly Elly began singing — “twinkle twinkle little star.” Only music could express the stirring she felt. This is one of my fondest memories. The vast sky and an innocent child’s voice singing a nursery rhyme . Recalling this moment returns me to the experience of great fullness.
When the night sky is visible my complaints and pettiness disappear. I feel the eyes of the great mystery looking back at me. And I know that I am part of a bigger story not separate but a sister star living her own life. Similarly on nights when Don and I fall asleep gazing into each others eyes I settle into a great fullness.
I would love to hear what brings a sense of great fullness to you. I know I’m not the only one who feels awe on starry nights. According to a BBC article of January 2011 dark sky tourism is a small but growing trend. People are actually planning trips to see the night sky.
This desire of mine is deeper than a fanciful longing. We need darkness to tell our busy brains to turn off. Dark and light cycles return us to the natural rhythms of life. Scientists tell us that they are required for mental and physical health.
A few years ago I spent the entire night watching stars at the Kitt Peak Observatory in Az. My friend, Donna and I were guided by Jason, a young astronomer. He showed us star nurseries, comets and things that defy description. For days after that I experience people as unfolding mysteries … Not things called people but a mysterious process. I wish I could say the effect lasted, but it didn’t. Maybe if I could look up at the stars on a regular basis I would remember the mystery of you and me.
But when I don’t see the stars, how can I remember that we all started as stardust.
Photo by Forest Wander