In the early hours of this morning I peeked out the window. A sliver of alabaster moon hung, tilted, like the one in a child’s book, cradling a drowsy child, draped and peaceful. The stars filled the cold steel sky. Orion, on his side was still slumbering. Shadows of trees fell across the ground. It was still. And quiet. And frosty.
This week I stumbled across this quote on the Center for Courage and Renewal’s site:
“There’s something magical about a night sky in December.
The stars seem somehow closer and crisper, as if they’re noticing me.
And if I pause long enough to notice them back, they’ll tell me their story.
It’s the story of how, in spite of the oceans and borders that seem to divide us,
all 7 billion humans sleep beneath the same night sky.
And we always have.
That’s a beautiful truth, don’t you think?”
I love this. We all, each one of us, with all our similarities and differences, sleep under the same night sky. We are all tucked in under the same primordial blanket. As we gaze upwards, billions of us search for the star formations that tell the stories we remember from childhood. There is the Greek tale of Orion boasting of his hunting skills, ready to kill all the animals when Gaia stopped him and raised his defeated body to the heavens. Hindus look up and recall the Mahabharata’s story of The Seven Rishis…. what we call The Big Dipper. In this Hindu tale it is not about our familiar bear, it is about the seven sages who make the sun rise and shine. In Africa the Nyae Nyae !Kung Bushmen see the sky and stars as the dwelling place of all the divine beings and spirits of the dead. Also from Africa is the watching of Canopus, “one of the brightest stars in the night sky. It is widely known in southern Africa as Naka, “The Horn Star”. In Sotho tradition, a careful watch was kept for Naka about the end of May. Sotho chiefs awarded a cow for Naka’s earliest sighting. The day of the sighting the chief would call his medicine-men together. Throwing their bone dice, the doctors would judge whether the new season would be good or bad. The appearance of Naka also heralds coming of winter and browning of the veld. When Naka appeared before sunrise, the Tswana knew it was time to start breeding their sheep. In Venda tradition, the first person to see Nanga in the morning sky (in May, heralding winter) would climb a hill and blow the phalaphala (black sable antelope horn) and he would receive a cow as a prize. The Zulu knew Canopus as is Andulela, a messenger appearing at the end of Autumn, the harvest time, and also as in Khwenkwezi, “The Brilliant Star”. The Xam Bushmen believed that Canopus could influence the availability of ants’ eggs, a rich source of nourishment, and they called it “The Ant Egg Star”.” (Psychohistorian.com)
From the stars we did come. We are not only, each one of us, called to sleep as the stars shine, but are made from them.
“The nitrogen in our DNA, the calcium in our teeth,
the iron in our blood, the carbon in our apple pies
were made in the interiors of collapsing stars.
We are made of starstuff.”
― Carl Sagan, Cosmos
The world is in such turmoil now. All the making of our advanced brains. The actual physical being of our planet is in pain. On fire. Drowning. Melting. Humans around the world are in pain from wars, famine, drought, flooding, persecution, violence, fear.
Yet, we are all made from the same star stuff that began longer ago than we can fathom. We all breathe the same air and rest under the same sky. We dream the same dreams under night fall and star shine. In our dreams we face our fears, find our true love, become champions and sometimes catch a glimpse of the future. We share with our children the constellation myths using whispered and strong voices, invoking the wonder and magic of the star animals and gods. With our sleep we offer a bit of time for our bodies, hearts and minds to be still, heal and recharge.
“When it is dark enough, you can see the stars.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson
It has to be dark enough to see the stars at night. Perhaps we can hope it also means that as this man made darkness falls around the world we may see individuals here and there who shine like guiding stars to help us remember while there is seemingly much that separates us, there is the also something greater that binds and bonds us together. This is a shared reverence we must find again and hold on to. Look up to the stars and know we are all made from them. We all share them and experience awe and wonder in their sparkle. How do we heal oursleves? How do we bridge the gaps created by ideaology, religion, power, dogma, fear, want, need? How do we learn again to care about “Others”? How does each one of us find the courage to let our own light shine, our voices rise up, our actions find conviction, so that we can find ways to embrace one another and find comfort and beauty nestled together under the blanket of stars?