Finally a couple of hours before dawn, I saw falling stars. They were almost directly overhead and cutting just below the Big Dipper well above the horizon. It was a relief. I did not think I would have the occasion as I was unable to get away from the city and earlier in the evening had produced nothing in the way of fireballs leaving me only to rest, so that I could wake early and try again. It was then I was met with success.
In some ways it was appropriate that I should see these in the city. I started the business about stars in this town and this is the town where the stars have lived and where I have learned to love them. Still I would liked to have travelled and the only thing not getting away has done is increase my resolve for a proper vacation. It could be there is more benefit in this anyway as it would give me another month to try to put things right here and more time to enjoy an increased number of days off.
I am thinking of Acadia as I have always loved pictures of the place and feel it must be more beautiful still. Postcards and photos never do justice to our national parks.
I remember hiking past Bear and Nymph Lakes in RMNP. We are gaining a little elevation and rounding a corner to see yet another photo op in the making, when a woman making her way back to the trailhead says, “you don’t think it can get any more beautiful and it always does.” She is right and eventually one just grows accustomed to an increasing beauty. I always liked that experience, because even in my lowest moments I think this is a good way to view not only a national park, but life itself. People and places always grow more beautiful. If ANP can be half as beautiful as RMNP then I hardly think I could take it in.
“Theologians talk about prevenient grace that precedes grace itself and allows us to accept it. I think there must also be a prevenient courage that allows us to be brave – that is, to acknowledge that there is more beauty than our eyes can bear, that previous things have been put into our hands and to do nothing to honor them is do great harm.” Pastor John Ames in Marilynne Robinson’s Gilead
I remember the mountains involving the courage that one must have when coming to know that which is beautiful. It is a courage that is more than staring down at the steep drops on a road lined only with thin wooden poles rather than guardrails. (This is done because snow plows would snap guardrails free, one of those tidbits you learn after visiting a place.) It is more the courage to say life is beautiful, that beautiful and good things have been given to you and to treat the earth and other people in a way where they are less than this not only diminishes another person and the good creation; it makes you unworthy of the title of human being. I hardly think Acadia can top that lesson, but if it can affirm it, all the better. I expect the roads there will at least have guard rails.
There were falling stars last night. Rather I should say dancing stars. I like that better, because everyone who knows me knows when I speak of stars I am speaking more of heavenly creatures that have come to earth than the burning remains of a comet. I also like the term, because I do not dance, though I always love people who do. They are the outward appearance of what I feel on the inside. They are the ones who have seen underneath my dank pragmatic exterior to that which they know is a passionate interior. I think a couple have even seen me as beautiful, remarkable to me as I really know that despite doing a few things well, I am still unable to dance or sing, easily angered, more easily lost, and not the brightest bulb in the pack who in spite of his existential angst is easily distracted by the likes of a marmot. These who look at me and can concur with Pastor Ames must certainly be remarkable people.
It is these I wanted to honor by travelling away from the city to see dancing stars as bright as they have made my life, though perhaps it was better to see them in the city where the stories of the stars have been made. And maybe it was better to see them as small frail lights streaking across the heavens, if only because I know they see themselves as small and frail, though nothing is further from the truth.
The truth is they belong more in heaven than on earth and some have already gone home. It is also true without these, my life is as nothing. I would give anything to hold them, though I am not worthy of the thing. Having done so at all is proof of grace. And now when I am unable to rest and much has to be done, when I am unable to get away and I must be nothing other than strong though I am weak, I know at least I have last night when I saw these cast their reflections in the heavens over the city where their stories of the great torrent of mercy and grace have been made known.