Sunday, December 12, 2010

Star Light, Star Bright

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.


Friko said...

Marcia, my dear, this lovely post makes me want to tell you about the wonderful night sky I get delivered free every cloudless night. There are very few nighttime lights in this little village of ours and any other village or town is far enough away not to interfere with our sky.

Beloved goes out late at night to give the dog a last opportunity for a pee and so many times B. comes back and calls me outside to "come look at the stars".

A canopy of dark velvet with silver sprinkles and big steady lights punctuating the darkness.

And I don't need a jar of peanut butter either.

It's good that you teach your pupils to get to know the night sky, perhaps they won't be quite as keen on the nightly pollution of artificial light when it's their turn to rule the world.

Kate said...

Fantastic bit of writing, Marcia. Love it.

Anonymous said...

Love it - thoughts of everyday happenings lead you to a "big beautiful thought". Love it, made me smile and think of the reality of the Holiday Season. Mary B

Arkansas Patti said...

That commercial makes me sorry that I record all my TV mainly to skip through the commercials. I am obviously missing a good one.
Good luck with the night sky. Even in my rural area, there are enough security lights to make sky watching frustrating.
Hope you can find a spot and do take advantage.
Wonderful and though inducing post.

Arkansas Patti said...

Oops, that is "thought" inducing post.

Olga said...

Several years ago, Mike and I went with friends on a raft trip down through the Grand Canyon and slept in the open under the stars for six nights. I had no idea until then just how filled with stars the sky can be. Beautiful and breath taking and a reason I am grateful for the opportunities life has handed us.

Story Connection - Our Memories Bring Us Together said...

This is from my old friend, Holland, the preacher man:

Loved the piece about looking up at the stars. From my preaching days emerge the lines from the Psalmist,

When I consider your heavens,
the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
which you have set in place,
what is man that you are mindful of him,
the son of man that you care for him?
You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings
and crowned him with glory and honor.

Psalm 8 has always been one of my favorites.

Celia said...

Great post. I do go out the back door each night and look up at the sky, it's a wonder. Living in a small town surrounded by farms helps. Even here though the lights interfere and for a good view of something like the Perseids meteor shower, we still need to drive out of town a bit for a clearer look.

Tabor said...

Here by way of Olga and certainly agree with this post. I am an outdoors person...although camping takes it a little far in my old age...but I love the outdoor 5-stars places we have had our lunch.

oklhdan said...

What a lovely post and a wonderful reminder to simply pause every now and then and look to the heavens and all the wonders of our universe.

Anonymous said...

Lovely post Marcia. We have very clear night skies in winter here in the big city. Not so in the warmer months owing to moisture in the air.
Every other year or so we are treated to something special. I am sure you know the moon will be fully eclipsed on the evening before the solstice this December and visible up and down the East Coast of the US.

Katie S said...

Marica- I am never sending the moon calendar homework home again!! I love the idea of just letting them go outside and "marvel at the wonder of it all."

Brig said...

I love to go out any night it's clear and just wonder at the heavens. Amazing Your reference to outdoor 5 star resturants struck close to home. Always love to go camping.

Wisewebwoman said...

Amazing this post - my last column in newspaper was about light pollution and how the city of Calgary spent millions in replacing all their light standards to flow downward so people can restore their sense of awe and wonder at our night sky.
I am lucky as I have the night sky which is breathtaking - all should have this sight as a given.
Lovely post, Marcia.

Grandma Yellow Hair said...

Enjoyed your post very much. I found you through Patti's sight and glad that I clicked on your site.
Looking forward to getting to know you and being a new follower.

Freda said...

My best memory ever of stars was from the deck of a yacht moored off the Galloway coast in Southern Scotland. Everything looked so big and bright. I love the little poem and your gift for making us search deep within ourselves. Thank you.

cile said...

What lucky students you have that they have a teacher who teaches them the lesson as well as the wonder of it all! Thank you for this Holiday gift of remembering to behold the night sky.

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