Starry Nights

From the work in progress Life: A Book About Learning to Live
By Jim Rosemergy

I dedicate a star to you.

On a starry night, my wife and I sat on the deck of a lovely home with several other couples.  The embers of a dying fire lit our features.  Each of us part light and part shadow.  Wine flowed as easily as the laughter, but it was one of those rare occasions when the laughter came first.  We lovingly harassed one another.  We spoke of life and children and finding life’s holy grail.  We supported one another.

Later in the evening when the sky was dark and filled with points of light, silence suddenly fell upon the group.  We sighed and in the dim light we could see contented smiles on some faces and far-away looks on others.  Some eyes turned to the starry night above, and a voice broke the silence.  “I dedicate that star (an outstretched arm, hand, and finger pointed to a particularly bright sun blazing light years away) to each of you.”  It was a simple act.  Heads nodded and words of thanks sealed the dedication.  I don’t remember the specific star dedicated to each of us that evening, but I never forgot the gesture.

Starry nights are not for thinking about ourselves; they are for thinking about friends and family, and for dedicating stars to them.  In a strange way, the smallness we feel as we rest under a canopy of darkness punctuated with points of light expands our view of the universe.  A few moments before we lift our eyes skyward, our world is limited.  It is what we know, and then suddenly we know nothing, but this nothingness ignites a feeling of awe in us that burns as brightly as the fire of distant stars.

On that starry night long ago, I was not aware that to look at a star is often to look back in time millions of years.  The nearest star is 4.5 light years away.  Each light year is 6 trillion miles.  The light from the star that was dedicated to me and my friends that starry night could have traveled for millions of years.  It found a home in us.  That beam of light ended when it entered our eyes, but it quickened not only an image seen as the star, but thoughts that continue to this day.  And equally awe-producing is the know fact that the atoms of our bodies, every one of them, were forged in the furnace of a star perhaps like the one that helped me long for starry nights and to dedicate a star to someone I love.

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