Tuesday, November 4, 2008

the milky way from my window

I have a new ritual at my house. The sky is so black and the nights are so quiet. I can see the Milky Way stretched out right over our roof like a nighttime rainbow. There are more stars than I could ever count.

before I go to bed each night I part my bedroom curtains and gaze at the night sky. I would love to learn more about astronomy, and I often harbor hopes that my youngest son will do something, anything, that has to do with space. He has the mind and the temperament for it, and the brains. Already twice as I have looked out at the sky from my window, I have been lucky enough to see a shooting star on its way to oblivion. Right there in that spilt second.

Have you ever tried to really look at a star? Not the big fat gaudy stars that are supposedly planets, but the small twinkly stars? The stars that disappear if you look at them for too long? Someone somewhere once explained this phenomenon to me, and to this day I don't if what they told me was true, and I don't care, because I love the idea so much. These disappearing stars may not even be there at all. What you see as you look at the night sky is an image that has travelled across the galaxies, for years, to reach your eyes. That star may be gone, dead, exploded, a super nova... and only now are you seeing it's image as it once was.

So looking at the sky from my home under the Milky Way is really a meditation. Whatever I am thinking or fretting about or grappling with that day leaves me. The ethereal, unreal, unpredictable quality of those stars, and the impossibility of holding onto them, even with my eyes, helps me remember that my life is the same. What a comfort.

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