Stars offer solace

If you want your problems to feel small and insignificant, walk outside on a dark, moonless night and become a star-gazer.
Find Casseopia in her stretched out ‘W’ and be reminded of her wicked tale—of a mother’s love gone wrong, a mother banned to the night’s sky for all eternity for claiming her beauty greater than any other, especially greater than the beauty of Andromeda, her daughter.
Or look to Orion, one of the largest of the common constellations and most easily-recognized, the belt of which is formed by three perfectly-aligned stars.
Orion was a skilled hunter, the son of Poseidon, but was killed on a hunt; the details unclear, his skill not able to save him.
Orion is one of the few constellations used to find other ones in winter’s sky—the metaphor being the stars help us find our way to wherever it is we are called to go (but I digress).
I was thinking of that very subject, where is it that I need to go, while I walked “Gracie” in the dark, walked her round and round the garden while I tried to get in my 15,000 steps for the day (silently recorded on the FitBit strapped to my wrist).
The night was dark and refreshingly cold. I couldn’t see my breath, but I could feel the cold sting of night on my cheeks. I walked with my head back searching for the constellations I know of, which aren’t many, until I got dizzy and collapsed on the grass.
I found the Big Dipper, which isn’t a constellation at all but rather an asterism—a group of stars forming part of a constellation. The Big Dipper, in fact, forms the tail and hindquarters of Ursa Major (the Big Bear).
Then I let my eye travel straight up from the Dipper’s top star of the body and found my way to Polaris, the North Star, positioned at the end star of the long curved tail of the Little Dipper (Ursa Minor, or baby bear).
It’s all there in the night sky—challenging my memory; my ability to focus and be in the moment while I search for answers.
The sky doesn’t know me, the stars care not what troubles me, so why should I worry? How can I feel confused when I look up at such vastness while I disappear into the dark along with my worry?
As I search for stars, I search for those who came before, for those who changed my life. I thought of my writing and why I do it, and where did it come from? The stars?
I barely passed Grade 13 English, not for lack of trying but for my inability to “get it right.” I then was obligated to take English in first year at the University of Manitoba.
I feared a similar result to Grade 13, but instead I found my voice and my words and the love of literature under the kind and gentle guidance of Fr. Robert D. Farrell, SJ, a man passionate about teaching.
Surprisingly, I achieved an A+ in that course and an invitation to Honours English. Had it not been for this teacher, I would never have picked up a pen.
So then I wonder. Do teachers have any idea how they touch our lives, how they keep us safe when we need safety, how they believe we can run—run fastest barefoot or not; how their love of mathematics becomes contagious.
Do they know? Or like the stars on a dark night, do they forget the lives they have changed.
wendistewart@live.ca

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