The Stars as Story

I’ve been stuck in a storm these past six weeks. Sometimes it feels like it’s been six minutes, sometimes it feels like it’s been six years. That’s both such a short and long time to have your head hidden in clouds, your whole being tangled in grief, your feet stranded in puddles. Some moments you tolerate the feel of life’s ripples moving across the waters you’re standing in, at other moments you’d like to be the Witch from Oz…”I’m melting!”

I have daily devotional plans for the bible that I dip into regularly. Some wisdom today from Joyce Meyers, ” Let the Storm Subside…”

“If I have learned anything about weathering those storms, it has been that they don’t last forever, and I don’t need to make major decisions in the midst of them. Thoughts and feelings run wild in the midst of crises, but those are exactly the times we need to be careful about making decisions. I often say to myself, “Let emotions subside before you decide.” We must remain calm and discipline ourselves to focus on doing what we can do and trust God to do what we can’t do.
Instead of drowning in worry and fear, get in touch with God, who sees past the storm and orchestrates the big picture. He makes sure everything that needs to happen in our lives happens at the right time, moves at the appropriate speed, and causes us to arrive safely at the destinations He has planned for us.”

Trust. It’s taken me a long way in recent years that’s for sure. And when it seems to have backfired and I can’t make sense of what’s happened I just have to trust even more…and that’s not easy. But no one said faith is. And decisions I was on the cusp of making I’ve put aside again for now. That does seem sensible. To wait and see just which doors and windows I might want to open and where I’m hoping they’ll lead.

The gaps in the clouds are windows.  I can see through them the stars at night. It’s an act of giving it up and surrendering. I can’t reach the windows and I can’t touch the stars with my hands, but I can give up my physical self and just be in the stories of the stars.

A few times this year I’ve been in places away from the lights of cities and towns. I’ve found myself lying on a picnic bench or the bonnet of the car, immersed, enthralled.

Orbits are the celestial paths of planets, and of our man made satellites. What’s your celestial path story? What are you circling in your life? What are you attracting? What are you drawn to?

I was very drawn to Walt Disney as a kid, loved the stories that came out of Disneyland, including Pinocchio. It’s hard not to smile when you think about Gepetto noticing the wishing star and wishing for his marionette Pinocchio to become a real boy. And Pinocchio’s conscience, Jiminy Cricket, singing When you wish upon a star” …as dreamers do.

Wishes on stars are stories of potential, tales of the future, moments of true telling. I often wish on stars. Not so much at the moment, but I’m sure I’ll find heart for it again. In the meantime I haven’t lost the wonder of it, the big expanse of scattered stories above, some told, some imagined, some yet to be found.

I want to share this story with you from late January this year:

The sanctity of the sky. It’s something I appreciate every time I go running in the ocean pool. I spend a great deal of that time looking at it and wondering. After a run under cloudy skies in November last year I felt a need to share what it had been like for me, so I wrote this short description which I’m including here today:

“I shared the ocean pool only with the local water birds and a wee, darting fish that had lost its school friends. The ocean rolled and roared and hissed, like the 1.00 am freight train. There were things of the ocean in the sky. A white whale’s belly, Jonathan Livingston screaming into land, the hull of a ship suspended by the fingers of God. Hues of grey, white, blue and a creeping rust brought the clouds above a little lower, a clarifying contrast to green moss on the rocks left bare by the gone tide. So incomprehensibly beautiful as to sanctify.”

Day 4 of the Your Turn Challenge asks that I use this blog post to teach you something that I do well. So here it is, star gazing 101:

Step one: Find a view of the evening sky

Step two: Look up for as long as you can

Step three: Appreciate the wonder, wonder what it all means.

Obviously the type of experience that you have can be influenced by a number of factors – geographical (whether you are away from city lights, what hemisphere you’re in), informational (whether you have someone with you who knows what they are looking at and can explain what you’re seeing, what the newspaper article says to look for tonight), philosophical (debate the rigidity of the heavens ancient Greek style, or ponder on the issues of space junk modern era style).

sextantStars are characterised by their absolute luminosity, that is the total energy radiated per unit time in the form of photons. I really don’t get the end part of that sentence…I just pause after absolute luminosity…it seems a fitting way to describe stars. Last week in the North West of Tasmania I had the opportunity to lay on a picnic table late at night, lost in the stars, watching the satellites and wondering at their absolute luminosity…wondering about those who have navigated by the stars…where their journeys led them…how clever men designed inventions that allowed the use of celestial bodies and the visible horizon to determine longitude and latitude.

Wondering is an important thing in my book. It allows us to experience things more deeply as we question, to gain new perspectives as we contemplate and to appreciate. Yet sometimes this is not enough and we have a call to action.

It’s an excerpt from a blog post called Gaze: Where Wondering Leads, which you can read by clicking here. It starts with Galileo and ends with serendipity and a call to “Dream big, dream different people! What is it that we can dream and then do for our global communities?”

The call for dreaming, for action is still echoing. Whilst I love those moments of star gazing and the invention of stories relating to the stars, there are stories a little closer to home, on the planet, that could use our attention.

I’m actually doing Acumen’s Storytelling for Change free online course at the moment. It’s part of the way in which I’m supporting a friend’s citizen led adventure, The 10 City Bridge Run, part of which is putting together a book called Life Bridges. It’s an exciting project that calls on us to use our networks to deliver on the promise of making a difference to child survival. Stories need to be made and we need people to be part of them and to hear them, so check out the blog for more information or like the Building Bridges page here on Facebook.

May our stories behold us and bear witness to our meaning making in our own and others lives…shine with your own absolute luminosity.

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