First star I see tonight.
I wish I may
I wish I might
Have the wish
I wish tonight.
I don’t remember my first night sky memory. Perhaps it was a warm summer evening when my parents took my brother and me out in the yard to lie on our backs, hands behind our heads, to ponder the moon. I see the moon and the moon sees me. Or maybe it was Christmas Eve, gazing up to look for the Star of Bethlehem on that silent night, holy night - or Rudolph’s nose so bright, won’t you guide my sleigh tonight?
Several things have happened lately to make me think of the night sky and all of its wonders.
First is a current REI ad on television. Although REI is a company that sells hiking and camping equipment, items I'm not all that interested in, their latest ad is a good one. It makes me want to step back and contemplate my life, which is a lot to ask of a television commercial, especially one touting something I don't want. In it, a woman is perched on a dusk-lit cliff in the great outdoors, eating a piece of bread slathered with peanut butter. By the enthusiastic noises she's making, you can tell she is thoroughly enjoying that peanut-buttered bread, as the narrator says something like, "Jane Smith has just discovered that a four-star restaurant can't begin to compete with one having four million stars." All I can add to that is "Isn't that the truth and where can I buy a sleeping bag - or at least a big old jar of peanut butter."
And then, there’s the teaching of second grade and our current curriculum unit centered around the moon and the stars. For this unit, we usually have the students keep a moon-phase calendar for a month, an assignment that causes no small amount of angst for parents and children alike as they try to find the time each night to locate the moon not only in the midst of a cloudy evening, but also in the middle of homework, baths and bedtime stories. So, this year, I asked the parents to simply help their child to take a moment during the busy holiday season to go outside and look up at our beautiful night sky, to think about the moon and the stars and what they mean to us, to marvel at the wonder of it all.
As soon as I asked that, I had to stop and consider just when was the last time I marveled at the gift we get for free most nights if we just stop and look up at the magnificence of our universe. For those of us who live in Atlanta, when we gaze toward the heavens, we often can't get past our city view, with its skyscrapers lit up like Christmas trees all year round. It takes real focus and commitment to take note of the glory of our earth and its suburbs, the neighboring galaxies.
And finally, there's this season we're in, when we humans add twinkly lights to trees, homes, bushes and the occasional dog in an effort to emulate the celestial bodies. And don't forget the story we tell all over the world about that special star that led the wise men to that certain babe.
And so, my promise to myself this holiday season is to take my own moment to go out into the brisk night air, to stop and look up in wonder at the sky and think about what a gift it all is, how the stars have guided us throughout time, how the moon moves the oceans, the miracle that is our universe. I think I may take along a jar of peanut butter.