I look to the sky and see nothing.
Except that’s not quite true. A moth flies across my field of vision, glinting a white light as its wings catch the startling floodlights of the city. The buildings around me soar up to scrape the darkness, the square windows glowing and sparkling in an almost convincing rendition of the stars. A dozen planes fly above me, the meteors of the city…but none of it comes close to the real darkness I saw just a week earlier.
The word darkness has connotations of loss, even death, of a sadness so deep that there seems no hope. But in a situation like the one I was in, in the countryside where it gets so dark that you can see nothing before you,when no lights or buildings are put there out of fear of the dark, we look up and discover what’s hiding in the night. And it’s something that’s worth the fear of the dark to find.
It’s dizzying looking up. Appreciating the night sky is almost cliche, but in reality, in the moment, when all there is is you and the sky, there’s nothing cliche about it. The demands and judgements of society, for just a moment, are hidden by a beauty so vast that it makes us forget that we’re supposed to be bored of the wonders of the stars.
As I stand there, surrounded by friends and happy thoughts I see not just one, or two, or three, but a total of ten shooting stars flash above me.
It’s a shared experience, it’s a single moment, it’s a small feeling of contentedness. It’s something which so many people have put into words that to do so again seems silly. The stars mean a lot to a lot of people – they’re a reminder of a creator, of something bigger than themselves that’s in control. For others they’re something to be studied, to learn about. And for me – they’re a few things. They’re, typically for a Christian girl, a reminder of God and his power. Along with this, they’re also friendship. In that shared experience of looking up above with friends I feel like I bond so much more with those around me – watching the sky and seeing something naturally incredible together has brought me closer to so many people at so many special moments.
But now, in the city, as I gaze up at a starless sky, I feel oddly alone. I’m not, I’m surrounded by friends and by strangers. But there’s something in the lack of a reminder above me of a bigger plan, of something more than myself which hurts my perspective. We’re constantly building bigger and bigger, trying to make our own shooting stars – when really all we need to do is look up at the world that has been made for us, and in that we can meet each other and God. But when you take that away, when you reach a point where you can’t actually see the stars – it leaves me unsure of where that leaves us, when all there is is us: alone, singular, and the centre of each of our own little worlds.