Saturday, August 14, 2010

I squeeze the sky

Last weekend I was lying on my back looking up at the stars on a dock on a lake in New Hampshire.  
A coworker had invited a few of us to her parent’s camp which was located on an island somewhere in the middle of Lake Winnepausake.  Of course we did all the fun things you do at a lake house:  boating, swimming, eating, exploring, lying around the dock, eating more, imbibing - all checked off on the Fun Things To Do at a Lake House in the Summer Awesome List.  
Sometime late in the night, we found ourselves splayed out like giant starfish on the dock, staring out at the sky, silent.  I’m sure I speak for the others when I say I was completely mesmerized by the flecks of stars that scattered the midnight space - like God had taken a fistful of glitter and tossed it across the universe.
After a while, it was just two of us laying there, bookending the wide planks of dock, presumably lost in our own small thoughts on a giant lake in a vast world.  
“I’ve seen six shooting stars so far tonight.” Chris says.
“You know it’s funny, isn’t it?” I thought out loud, “You really only see them in your periphery - never in focus.  It’s always you staring up at the sky and somewhere on the outer edges you see a dot fall, and just as you shift your eyes to catch it, it’s gone.”
Just then a bright orange flame sliced across the sky.  No joke.  A shooting star bigger than I’d ever seen literally unzipped the heavens.  It was beautiful and so close!  We both started shouting and laughing and were in total amazement.  What perfect timing!

Of course, no one else from the house saw it.  And I wondered if we were the only ones on the lake looking up at that moment, if our excitement carried over the water to a campfire whose flames only drifted towards the heavens, fading out as ash before ever knowing life above the tree-line.
It’s a funny thing about shooting stars, or falling stars, as it were.  How closely they mirror those precious moments in our lives where joy lives.  Where happiness follows.  The beautiful moments that happen mostly when we’re not looking for them.  They happen in our peripheral vision.  So special are they that we keep our eyes trained on the map of stars, a hole punched sky, a network of galaxies and seconds of time where we live, interact, believe, fall, dream, rise, learn, release, fail, fly and grab ahold of anything ALL of every moment we have here on this earth knowing that if we do this, if we set our gaze down somewhere in the middle of it all, we might get a glimpse of something really special.
So many times, I have missed this opportunity.  I’ve known what it’s like to hold onto something so tightly.  I’ve known what it means to focus everything I have on one thing and pray that it changes, or doesn’t change, or does what I want it to do.  I’ve been the stargazer whose eyes flit from star to star hoping that I’ll catch the projected arc of light from it’s beginning all the way to it’s end.  To not miss a thing.  All the while, the universe is raining stars and I cannot see them because I am looking over here...

I guess what I’m saying is the heavens hold a trillion billion zillion miracles.
There is magic in the periphery and in patience.
There is an arc of bright orange brilliance ready to unzip the heavens and you may be the only one ever to see it, and it’s happening all around you, right now.
The irony is that you’ll miss it if you look for it.  So pay attention to the vast expanse of your big big Life and start living it out. 
Keep your eyes on the whole of it all, and you’ll get your shooting stars:)

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