Sunday, August 9, 2009

The Moon and Stars

When I was a little girl, I remember looking up at the night sky and thinking that the bits of light I was seeing must be from heaven. God, I knew, lived continually in that brilliant light, in a glory we could at least imagine because we had felt the warmth and comfort of the sun. But that light is too much for us to experience all the time; we humans need the darkness, too, the nighttime of quiet and reflection to prepare us for the blaze of the next day's light. I imagined God covering the world with a blanket so that we would be protected from the radiance of his light, a blanket which obviously had holes in it because on clear nights I could see the pinpoints of light streaming down from God's heaven. Starshine and lightyears meant little to me at this point; everything was God's work for humans' joy. I felt the touch of God's love in the darkness: the daytime may have shown the brilliance of his creation, but the nighttime showed his caring and concern for the creatures of this world.

I didn't have words to say much of this as a child, and later as an adolescent when I could have found at least a few more of these words I knew enough to have discarded the idea of blankets with holes and God tucking the world into sleep. But still I would lay on the hood of a car and watch the moon and stars for hours on end, wondering about the distance the light had traversed to reach that car and me upon it. What numberless worlds had the light passed on its way? Why did the moon, a disk or sliver or slice of light and shadow, draw our gaze upward? Why did its beauty seem so holy?

For three nights in a row this week I felt conjured and called to leave my house of closed doors and artificial illumination for the perfect peace of a night under the moon and stars. One night I simply walked a lonely road in the moonlight, crossing a bridge with cars that seemed tiny as toys passing below. Another I paddled my way across a lake with the moonlight reflected in the water and then, just as when I was young, sitting on my car and simply watching in silence. On the third night I lay in a hammock, the sky framed by the branches of a tree above and only a few stars visible there at the edge of the city. And each night I felt the light seep into my skin, pulling me inside it and carrying me on its beams to my childhood dreams of a blanket and a night and a God who cares for his world. And every moment was a moment of love.

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