This is one of those nights where I join thousands who look up to the skies, hoping for small points of light to appear streaking across the sky. The Perseid meteor shower is peaking tonight, but the cloud cover where I live is too thick for even the moon to peer through other than a soft, luminous glow. So, I have to imagine the small points of light that I know are there, in spite of the cloud cover blocking my vision.
It’s a pretty good metaphor for the kind of day I’ve had, actually.
Life offers a lot of brilliant lights that seem to be under the cover of clouds. Puffy clouds, storm clouds…it’s not really relevant the nature of the clouds. They are there, and we cannot change their course. Our vision is blocked, so all we have is our faith and sense of what we cannot see to know that there is motion and light beneath the cloud cover.
I was sitting tonight, enjoying some silence and thinking about the skies. I have had more than a few moments where I stretched out beneath the stars, hoping for a siting or a sign, or a constellation. I am reminded of my own smallness within the vastness of the Universe. And yet, each one of us is a real point in that vastness, a genuine article of light and breath and flesh that lives out a lifetime even if that lifetime is a nanosecond of cosmic time.
One of my favorite moments was last summer, on a hotter-than-hot stretch of time where even the night breezes were warm on my skin. My daughter was up late, and I couldn’t sleep. So, we stretched out on the grass and just let the breezes run across us while watching the stars. I’m not even sure that we spoke. It was just a simple, present moment of mother and daughter soaking in their little space in the Universe. Simple, but powerful. It’s etched in my mind.
Back to tonight’s cloud cover. I have to believe in the bright streaking Perseids that someone, somewhere is seeing this light show even if I cannot. I may catch a glimpse tomorrow on google images, or CNN, or the Facebook page of some friend living under clearer skies. It’s OK to enjoy vicariously, too.
Or, I might just sit right here beneath the cloud cover, knowing that the Perseids are overhead. Small points of light are streaking in the sky whether or not I can see them from my vantage point. I don’t have to see them to know that they exist. If I am still enough, I may even feel them.
This, I know: small points of light are shining, even beneath the cloud cover.
“To make myself understood and to diminish the distance between us, I called out: “I am an evening cloud too.” They stopped still, evidently taking a good look at me. Then they stretched towards me their fine, transparent, rosy wings. That is how evening clouds greet each other. They had recognized me.”
― Rainer Maria Rilke, Stories of God: A New Translation