Tennessee Mountain Stories

The Great Night Sky

Meteor Shower.jpg

It seems to me that we are increasingly an indoor society.  We drive inside our cars which we park in garages which we access with a remote.  We pick up our food at drive through windows, have goods delivered to our door – it makes me wonder how long could you really go without your foot actually touching earth.

Now I’m a farm girl and somehow that means I gotta touch grass occasionally.  When I was in college – my first experience in the big city and surrounded by asphalt – I would get homesick for grass, I would crave the sun and wind on my face.  That’s never really left me yet I find myself getting caught up in running the house and running errands and my time walking in the woods or sitting in green pastures is frittered away.

Last week I did find the opportunity to sit out under the great night sky and watch the Orionid Meteor Shower and it renewed my need for open skies and fresh air.  I was out there at 5 a.m. and it was pretty chilly but it was wonderful.  My children were a little slower to join me but when they finally got out there they too could see the wonder of God’s work in the heavens and the cold faded into the background. 

I look at the vast expanse of space and see simple things (bright lights, twinkly stars, beauty).  But my husband was explaining how to navigate by the stars and teaching the children that men have been doing that for centuries, in fact they set out in tiny wooden ships across unknown waters guided only by those stars.  I’m way more comfortable marking my way by the rising of the sun against a mountain, unique trees or rock formations and other landmarks.  But never have I faced West and just started walking with no hope of a road sign or GPS signal. 

Those generations that went before were so brave.  Sure some immigrants were practically chased from their homes and they may not have been any more fearless than I when they climbed into the hold of a ship and drifted out to sea.  And the westward migration was driven by a quest for fortune, for a better life.   Still there were women who left everything they knew with no hope of ever seeing it again.  They left parents, siblings and friends.  They lived in a day when letters were their only hope of communication and regular mail deliveries were still a century away.  Yet that same bright sky I sat under just last week blanketed those adventurers so long ago; the same stars twinkled at them.  

I’ve been mourning the losses of several elderly relatives lately as I feel like so much history dies with them.  There are so many stories I haven’t heard and documented.  There are so many people I will never know from their memories.  Realizing the constancy of things like the night sky is somehow a comfort, isn’t it?