Thursday, November 8, 2012

the vacuum shredding, gravity denying burning cold of the stars

Last night we stopped on our way home from Rapid --on the two lane road that runs from Howe's Corner to Faith, at the crossroad to Red Scaffold. We stopped the car on the edge of the road, turned the motor and lights off, and stepped out under the open sky.

At first I was startled, because I hadn't seen that many stars in a very long time --and the milky way spilled across the sky... and then I was surprised at the silence... and then it seemed as though the stars weren't that far away --that some, like old friends, the 7 sisters, Orion, the Dippers --they moved closer, greeting us....

I felt my ancestors move in me --finally, a familiar landscape, with its own place names still intact. I remembered when I was reading old maps for a research project, and was amazed at the ephemeral landmarks chosen to describe boundaries --the oak tree fifty paces west of the stream that cuts down the valley --the pile of rocks at the end of the row of trees 20 chains east.... but this ancient landscape above me... probably as familiar to my people who used flint to start fires, carried coal in a hollow cow's horn from one camp to the next --and they saw it and were glad... --unlike the ribbons of tarmac we've used to tie the earth in unfamiliar humps, the urban trajectories of cement and metal and pierce the sky and hide the hills.... But, the stars... this they knew. And they moved in me....

And standing there in the absolute dark, a certain fear gripped me --more than the low rumble of an approaching set of trucks --still miles away, advancing like beasts growling an approach over the worn path of the highway...

We stood there at the crossroad of Faith and the road to Red Scaffold.... it was not the feeling of grateful puny-ness --it was more like the old friends of my childhood sky were known more completely --the vacuum shredding, gravity denying burning cold of the stars and planets so long ignored or hid from sight were going to lay waste to my soul. --It was more than just being vulnerable which leaves the soul intact...

I had stepped out of the car to glory in the star-light... puffed up with remembrances and familiarities and ancestors.... And it was not to be so. I had begun the wrong way. I had to start over.

I realized suddenly that I was now going to have to meet the sky on its terms.... and I had nothing to offer --no sage, no prayer, no song. I had stepped out of the car to claim the sky. I had begun all puffed up ready to be awed in the ways I wanted....

And it was a certain fear --but it wasn't fear of an imminent demise or pain. It was that I had drawn close to something holy in the wrong way... barged in to the night without thought --like an inappropriate sightseer. And I had the overwhelming urge to hide until I could begin again. In a sacred way.

So, I jumped in to the car, telling Joel he had better do so as well... and we ran....

At prayer this morning (a portion of Psalm 71)

But I shall always wait in patience, *
and shall praise you more and more.
My mouth shall recount your mighty acts and saving deeds all day long; *
though I cannot know the number of them.
I will begin with the mighty works of the Lord GOD; *
I will recall your righteousness, yours alone.
O God, you have taught me since I was young, *
and to this day I tell of your wonderful works.

And now that I am old and gray-headed,
O God, do not forsake me....

The prairie teaches me... that looking at the night sky is like looking at the face of God....

--and, for some reason, this came to mind, so... just so I don't get tooooooo serious in wonder and awe....





Hey God, it's margaret. In all humility, I am not ready to give my liver up to the powers that be. So, thank you for the night sky, and the reminder that you are holy and what that really means. Or something like that. Amen.

3 comments:

susankay said...

Humility is such a process. Would that it were a destination. ...sign ... not a humble comment.

Bless you

Prairie Soul said...

This is a beautiful meditation. Yes, the prairie skies are incomparable. I hope you'll see the Northern Lights this winter. They'll enchant you, and you won't be able to run away.

it's margaret said...

A place called Humility. I like that idea, susankay. Very Incarnational.

I hope I will be better prepared to NOT runaway Prairie Soul. I hope!