It’s cold in the mountains tonight. I have a fire burning in the stove to take the chill off the room. I glanced out the window and suddenly felt compelled to step onto the deck to look at the sky. The night is clear, and the stars seem to float in layers, each star pulsing brightly against a pitch-blackness of the sky. I have not seen the sky as dark, or the stars as bright in years. There’s a three-dimensional feeling to it, and I almost believe that I can take a few steps forward, pluck one from the sky, and stuff it in my pocket before anyone notices it’s gone.
It makes me smile just to think such childlike things, and I’m glad to know a little boy still breathes inside this aging body.
Somewhere along my life journey, though, I took these stars for granted.
The night lights of even the smallest cities in which I have lived for much of the last thirty-years have turned the deep black sky to gray, creating such a dense fog of light pollution that all but obliterated the stars from my view. The sky that I—most of us, I think—have come to accept looks more like a piece of gray construction paper with mini Christmas lights—some with burnt-out bulbs—poking through in random places. It makes for a dull and one-dimensional view of what lies ahead, or beyond.
We build monuments to achievements we believe to be so grand we light them both day and night. And yet we have become so afraid of the dark, or what may occur in the dark; we choose to light every building from dusk-to-dawn in unsuccessful attempts to eliminate theft or injury. I don’t think these artificial lights serve many purposes. All we seem to achieve with this showmanship is a bit of visual misdirection that does nothing more than blind us from the real beauty we should be drawn to when the darkness falls each day.
I wonder why we do such things to ourselves.
The stars hold hope, I believe. These beautiful layers of bright lights twinkling against the darkness of the night gave promise to the journeys of millions of men and women over thousands of years. It’s humbling to look at these same stars, thinking about how many have relied upon them to light their way, and how many of us look to them still for guidance. All too often I think we miss the depth of opportunities along the path these stars light for us because we’re surrounded by the pollution of our vanity.
Yes, it has been a long time since I’ve seen these stars with such clarity and depth. I’ve missed their beauty. While I know they were there all along, I lacked the motivation, or maybe desire, to look for them. Until tonight.
It seems all I needed on this cold night was the courage to step outside a fog of my own creation, and just look up.
What do you need to do, to see the stars again? Will you do it?
Star light, star bright,
The first star I see tonight;
I wish I may; I wish I might,
Have the wish I wish tonight.