Saturday, May 20, 2006

Star Deprived

In a couple of hours, a few dozen friends from over the years will begin drifting in for a last “party on the patio”. We’ve had many of these over the years and we couldn’t leave without a last hurrah. Based on past experience, the party will go on til the sun is long gone and the chatter of many voices will distill into the few; the conversations will stretch and deepen into the sort that linger long after a party ends.

When I hopped into the car moments ago for a final ice run, the CD player was queued to Robbie Seay’s “Go Outside,” his contribution to the first CD offering from The Voice, which then got me thinking about stars. Which is not hard to do. “Go outside, praise the God who mapped the stars up in the sky...gather with those you love” which would be a perfect soundtrack for tonight’s gathering if only you could see the stars from our patio. And this is a big reason we are moving to Columbia, and not even to Columbia but to a tiny town outside it, because in Columbia, as in Houston, the stars have been scrubbed clean from the sky by city lights. We’ll be lucky to spot one or two steadfastly twinkling, unappreciated, on the periphary of the horizon.

Last summer, while our kids were away on extended family vacations, Wayne and I jumped into the car for an impromptu road trip west. I wanted to take him, my English city boy, to the Grand Canyon. There are few things on earth that live up to their hype and the Grand Canyon is one place that never disappoints, no matter how much you’ve talked it up or how many times you’ve seen it. It still boggles the mind and short circuits your preconceptions. I stood on the rim of the canyon, in virtually the same spot I’d stood on exactly 15 years before, and wondered how long you’d have to stand there to notice the mountains move. God wears a different wristwatch.

That night we pitched a tent under the tall pines of the north rim as the sun was rapidly setting. By the time I headed for the restrooms, I needed my flashlight to navigate my way through the trees. When I cleared the trees and branches and emerged into the open, I almost ducked. The stars hung so low and close and plenty it kind of spooked me. I had forgotten.

What do you lose when you lose the stars? More than we can know. I’ve been working on a translation of Psalm 97 for The Voice and pondering how the heavens “declare”. And funny enough, Mark was doing the same, brilliantly, on his "How Do the Heavens Declare God's Glory?" post of May 12. Oceans and mountains "declare" but we don't all have oceans or mountains. But no matter on what corner of the earth, what desert, what river, what jungle, what hill or what sea, we all have the same stars and in that way, we share a language. Stars don’t just help us sail our ships or find our way through the desert. They are constantly speaking and when we turn the bright lights on, and the stars off, we lose touch with something we need not only to see, but hear, to rightly navigate our souls through this blink we call time.

We’re going to go get our stars back. And tonight we’re going to celebrate it. I’ll sign off now, it’s time to go outside.


Karen Miedrich-Luo said...

I wish I was there to say goodbye. To the Patio, to the whispers of the fountains, to the jangle of the windchimes, to the sounds of stair-stepped girls in the playhouse. That house was a refuge, a retreat, a rest stop before we found our own place - jet-lagged from China - jet-lagged from life. Reading your blog has been like sitting on your couch and perusing your newest find from the indie bookstore in the village. Lucky me. Like in our famous Moon Festival Parties where we stared at the moon and thought of loved ones far away, I'll search out a star (we see a few more here in far north D) and hope you can see it too.

Ted said...

that image at beginning of your article. is that some kind of plater model you made?

north D said...

where'd all the traffic go? How was the partee? You took down your post-it board. Have you been swallowed by the quicksand?