Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Where Are the Stars?

Where are the Stars?

I’ve been missing the stars. Each night I scan the winter sky hoping to see just one. Some nights I do but lately the clouds have taken over quite completely, obscuring the night lights.

All this star-gazing isn’t about any interest in astrology, astronomy, the cosmos, or even romance. I just love the feeling I get, something like awe and an odd safety as if there were a cover, to contain and protect, to boundary chaos.

In Genesis this covering is called firmament (in new translations it's dome) No one really knows what a firmament is, but it is set in place by a Creator to distinguish above from below, to separate heavens from earth. Its creator calls it Sky. Somehow we got the idea that God is in the Sky and we are on the earth just waiting to head for the heavens.

But when I see the stars I feel no separation.

The ancients used to navigate by the stars alone, and the Magi followed a star to find a savior in a troubled world. I’ve followed many a star and sometimes gotten off track. Our culture right now is star-struck, paying undue attention to celebrities as if they could save us.

If I were a magus I would follow a star. I’d travel with curious others, wise ones with capacious hearts. I would travel light and stop three, maybe five times a day to look down, to pray. When the journey seemed too hard I’d stop and rest, eat and talk, sit on the earth and let the heavens go.

This is in fact my life—the life of any Christian, any religious, spiritually attuned, good person who, fueled by the soul’s adrenaline, gazes up to stars but follows only what they illuminate below—perhaps a whimpering infant nestled in a dumpster’s trash and needing care.

Just tonight I saw a star—Venus—next to a quarter moon slice. One.