Friday, June 1, 2007

Star Gazing

by Dawn Goldsmith

Deadlines, errands, cleaning, cooking -- all vie for my attention along with the people I love, work, pray, live, and commute with. Determinedly, head down, I set my jaw and bull my way through each day, multi-tasking, hugging kids while pushing another load of laundry in the dryer. By evening, I'm ready to collapse in front of the television and zone out.

I recall a summer evening. It beckoned to me. This particular night followed a non-stop day of canning tomato juice, gardening, house cleaning and baking. My sink overflowed with dirty dishes, pots and pans, but I stepped outside. Just a few minutes of fresh air and then back to work, I thought.

A gentle breeze shooed away the bugs and cooled my face. I sighed deeply and stepped from the porch into the yard. My hand brushed against a scented geranium and I inhaled the herbal rose fragrance that sprang into the air. I raised my arms and stretched, eyes shut, head back. With one particularly rejuvenating back bend, I opened my eyes and gasped. The sky above my head glowed.

Stars dotted the dark sky, an endless expanse that diminished everything. Our isolated Midwestern home, set amidst dusty fields of corn and soybeans, retreated into shadows while invisible crickets and peepers communicated their familiar night sounds.

The stars, glowing and twinkling, beckoned me to name, identify and sort out the planets from the stars, the satellites from blinking airplanes.

Assured that I can always find the Big Dipper, I searched for the familiar connect-the- dots outline. The North Star, pointing the way for navigators, glowed brightly. Venus loomed on the horizon, Mars pulsed red. And that was the extent of my astronomy prowess.
I called to my husband who had completed an intro-to-astronomy class in college. "Where did you say the Five Sisters are?"

"What? Where are you?"

He followed my voice and soon stood beside me. I pointed up. "The Five Sisters. Didn't you say that was a constellation?"

"Yeah." And he looked up. The serene night hugged us. We fell silent as we gazed at the stellar display. "There. There it is, I think. And over there, that's Leo. And there's Orion."


He drew close behind me and pointed over my shoulder. I felt his warm breath on my hair, and for the first time that day I relaxed into his strength and the beauty around me.

"Hey Mom! You're missing your favorite show!" My son shouted. "Mom? Mom? Where are you?"

I heard the door bang. "Out front," I directed, shouting into the dark.

He soon stood beside me. My techno-wizard who usually stared at a television or video screen stared open-mouthed at the sky. "What's that, Dad?"

"Orion. You see it?"

"Yeah. We learned about that in school."

We stood together, heads up, arms resting on each other's shoulders. "Look, a falling star! Did you see that?"

We all laughed and oohed and ahhhed. "There's another."

"That's cool."


Our words stilled and we moved closer together, content just to gaze at the sky and let the night's calm wash over us. My arms rested on my son in front of me, and I leaned against my husband -- a family sandwich. Our eyes focused upward on those tiny shards of light that had traveled billions of miles through space to light this particular dark night.

"God's in His heavens," I quoted, awed and wondering if Robert Browning had looked at a magnificent sky like this when he wrote those words.

The breeze turned cool and with a shiver, we looked earthward, coming back from our trip to the stars, refreshed and reconnected and soothed.

"All's right in the world." my husband added.

And it was.

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