This morning was the Geminid Meteor Shower. I almost didn’t go out – I’d nodded off during The Colbert Report, it was cold . . . all kinds of excuses. Yet, if I were still homeschooling I’d be pulling my kids out of bed, wrapping them in blankets and pushing them out the door with hot chocolate – no excuses allowed. What had happened to my sense of wonder?
So I slipped sweats on over my pajamas, put on the winter coat – the one that zips up past my chin and has a fleece-lined hood – grabbed a blanket and an old pillow and stepped out onto the small deck off my bedroom.
I felt like Lucy stepping out of the wardrobe and into Narnia, leaving a world of color and noise and entering one of black and cream and quiet. We live outside the city limits but close enough for a soft glow of light pollution. The second-story deck has no railing so there’s no visual barrier; I was suspended among the treetops. The thin bare canopies looked like Japanese paper cuttings circling the house.
Orion greeted me in all his brilliance, surrounded by sparkles in the cloudless sky. Almost immediately I saw my first falling star. Oh! Then the involuntary smile and lightening of my heart followed.
The air was cold but the wind wasn’t blowing. I thought, this is what’s meant by ‘still.’ I sat on my pillow and waited.
I’d decided to stay until I’d counted ten falling stars – it was after midnight, after all. But the eleventh trailed right after the tenth so I had to stay until I saw at least fifteen!
As I waited my mind focused on things other than housework and Christmas preparations: Who would be out driving at 1:00 in the morning? I’d love to go to Montana, Wyoming or Colorado where I’ve heard the stars appear so close one can almost touch them. Even with shoes on, my feet are getting cold-how the feet of the homeless must sting on nights like this.
Each time I thought I’d waited long enough and surely the shower was fading, another star would streak. Oh! And I’d be enticed to stay . . . just a few minutes longer . . . The stars never lost their beauty. Catching them never failed to bring a smile to my face or a deepening sense of wonder. I watched Orion march across the sky and by the time I went in at 1:30 I’d counted 26 falling stars. Not many, but enough.
As I write this I can hear the horrific news coming from Connecticut. I almost didn’t post this – a frivolous piece about wonder. But then I thought, maybe a quiet sense of wonder and time gazing at the stars – falling or otherwise – is what we all need right now.
Prayers for everyone in Connecticut.