Is there anyone who doesn't like stars? (Well, maybe King Herod.)
Stars seem to be a universally loved symbol, and they keep popping up in my life as a rich source for contemplation.
I was visiting my friend Sister Julie, who lives in our community retirement home, and she was regaling me with funny stories about her adventures with neuropathy. One of the afflictions of old age, neuropathy makes your hands and feet numb and pretty useless.
Its effects on Julie were particularly sad for me because she was a talented organist whose fingers could just twinkle over a keyboard and improvise wonderful arrangements.
But Julie was laughing about how she couldn't pick things up and ended her stories of frustration with a demonstration of how she had decided to deal with it: "I just decided to let it go!" she grinned, opening her hand wide. It looked just like a star. I got chills. She's a star!
I had another experience with stars when I was practicing twilight imaging, one of the meditation techniques of the Progoff Intensive Journal program. The process raises images from your unconscious so that you "dream" them without controlling them — letting whatever wants to appear do so without conscious control.
In my dream, I was sitting on a beach looking up at the stars. Three little stars in particular caught my eye. They winked at me, and I invited them to come down to the beach for a visit.
As they were floating down, I starting looking around frantically for something interesting to show them, someplace to take visiting stars that would show them what Earth is like. Nothing much to see on a beach at night — but wait! There was a bright light in the distance. I will take them to that McDonald's for a cheeseburger!
They were very chatty, and as we sat over our cheeseburgers (I noted they did not eat theirs), they asked if that's what we did for fun down here, consume things. I had to admit they weren't far off the mark. They bounced up and invited me to their house.
Whoopee! I was a star, radiating energy and light to Earth below. I was giving instead of taking, and it was fun.
I was also feeling a little abashed about the contrast of our two visits: McDonald's versus the universe. Consuming things versus radiating energy.
I've been mulling over that dream for nine years, and the stars are still teaching me things.
The Bible has been using stars on me, as well.
Don't you love it when a Scripture verse just jumps out and grabs you at the most unlikely moment? Suddenly, something you have read again and again becomes vibrant and relevant.
Like: "God numbers the stars and calls them each by name." What a tender image of a personal God, caring enough about each of us to remember our names.
Remembering names is a gift I have always envied. When you remember someone's name and call them by name, you affirm them and let them know they are important to you. Alas! I have to settle for remembering faces most of the time.
But God knows the stars (and us, and presumably the sparrow) by name.
In my journal that night, I drew stars all over the page and enjoyed naming them.
Have you ever thought about making up star names? "Telah," "Shila," "Murgho," "Oolah," "Michele" — and God remembers us all!
If you have some stars in your life that you want to write about or reflect on, share them with Global Sisters Report by contacting me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
[Ursuline Sr. Michele Morek is Global Sisters Report's liaison to sisters in North America.]