the dark sacred night

Ever since childhood, I’ve sought out the night sky when my heart felt too full, when it swelled with sorrow or thrashed with fear or bubbled with hope or a longing too great and fierce to stay inside walls. In junior high, I sat on the diving board of the pool and sang love songs out across the water, marveling at the silvery moon and its shadows, letting my heart float. When I was in high school, sometimes I walked miles out into the night, trying to burn out the ache that couldn’t bear stillness and then, when I thought I could walk no more, sitting alone with the stars. Now, mostly, I sit on my stoop, paved with broad, smooth stones, and I cling tight to my own patch of sky, love desperately the cacti with their dark fingers thrust upward and the shadow-lines of the trellis on the sandy ground. This little bit of sky over my little bit of earth, it lets me dream and sigh and sob out my quaking heart, sometimes all at the same time.

My father taught me the big dipper, forever the first thing I see. One night a boy taught me constellations (sweet, romantic boy) in a white convertible. I’ve since picked up others stars, here and there. They are my old friends, greeting me each year as the seasons change. And when I leave the city, millions more stars than there can possibly be seem to come in with a giant whoosh. They overwhelm me in the best way, bowing me down low and making my heart thump, and they remind me: I am not the only thing that sings in the night.

Under the midnight sky I have confided my deepest secrets, in speech, in letters, to others or to myself. The daytime sky somehow does not seem limitless to me–that unending blue makes it seem like it’s all there is, to my eyes–but the way the night lights prick through blackness speaks to me of the far reaches of universes. Sometimes I feel the night sky is the only thing big enough to know how terribly great and small I can feel at the same time. Sometimes it seems like nothing but the moon and stars will do. 

7 Responses to the dark sacred night

  1. Jesse says:

    Hi. I love this. I love you. I got a little teary. So you know.

  2. I have always loved the stars like ancestral guardians — they see the long vision I am so often incapable of being patient for. I didn’t have the freedom to seek their counsel as much as you did before I was old enough to have my own patch of earth, but I do remember their quiet light on rare nights when I could be out, away. I’m so glad to know I’m not the only one who finds comfort under this kind of night.

    • Sharone says:

      I love this idea of stars as ancestral guardians. There is something about their ability to just keep shining, their incredibly long lifespans compared to ours…we will never see their ends. They’re unfazed by either the grief that threatens to destroy me or the joy that can just rise and rise, and somehow that’s comforting. I wish that I felt more of that joy lately and not the grief, but I know eventually the night sky will show its summer stars again, and eventually everything will pass.

  3. Paul says:

    What a beautiful and eloquent piece. I’ll never look at the night sky again without thinking of you! Thanks for sharing a deeply personal attachment with the stars, and the timeless universe they illuminate.

    I’m sure your dad is looking down from those celestial reaches and beaming. “Good work! That’s my girl.”

  4. Leigh Kramer says:

    Gracious, friend. This is gorgeous writing. There is something particularly wondrous about the night sky, isn’t there? It’s been a good confidante to me over the years, too.

  5. […] look at the stars. (it’s not too late for one more cry.) […]

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