When I was ten years old my family moved from our small three bedroom house to a larger five bedroom in a more affluent neighborhood. My dad was climbing the Cold War ladder of success in what is now Silicon Valley; and my youngest brother had arrived safely into the loving arms of our family. The home my father chose was on a large lot (for suburbia) and was thrillingly two stories high. I was ten, with two other brothers close in age to me. We soon learned that we could access the garage roof from my parent’s upstairs balcony; it was there we would lie on the rough shingles with my dad, star gazing through binoculars and dreaming of other men walking on the Moon. I fell in love with the heavens, with constellations and shooting stars and the Moon. When I eventually came to faith in my early teens, I realized that some day I would be up there – in the heavens – with God and all that cosmic magic.
Over the years, the heavens would come to mean much to me.
Babies, whose hearts began to beat in my womb but who would slip away before becoming fully formed, resided up there somewhere, safe with God. In the dark, at the beach or on my grown-up home-owner deck, I would whisper their names and imagine they heard me. Or at least, that God had heard me and would kiss them with my love.
Tears I cried in private as I struggled as a mom and felt I failed, tears that fell when my marriage failed and my life shattered, those tears I imagined to be the stars. God had said that He put the stars in the heavens and called each one by name. Surely all my tears had names and were there in that crystal vastness.
In good times – and occasionally in the hard times – my children and I would have star parties on the deck. We would bring out all manner of cushions, blankets and pillows, and squish close together as we lay gazing into the dark night sky. We would track satellites, point at shooting stars, tell funny stories and stay warm together. Living outside of the city, the stars were vast and brilliant; constellations and the Milky Way were easy to see.
Tonight’s Moon reminded me of all of that, of all the years I have lived gazing up into the night sky. The velvety black night sky and brilliant white of the Moon has absorbed all my questions, my hopes, my dreams, my grief, my loss. Somewhere in my soul, it has absorbed me.
When I leave this earth at my life’s end, I will soar past the Moon to God’s home in the Heavens. I will leave behind all my grief and all that I love except God. I imagine that I won’t care anymore that I am fat, or that I lost weight, or that I was smart or was lonely. I won’t be tangled anymore in the web of trying to please others or please myself, of setting goals and achieving them. What will matter to me is that I loved well and that I listened well to those I loved. What will matter is that I knew God as best I could know God, and that I am coming home to Him.
In the meantime, on this gorgeous full moon night, as I sip my Bailey’s and coconut milk, and sit quietly on my bed, I am thankful that I learned to love the stars. I am thankful that, while my dad did many things wrong and wounded me beyond belief, he let me know that the stars and the ocean were gifts to me. For him, they were part of the great unexplainable universe; for me, they became a part of God’s anchor for my soul.