So You Wanna Be Star? Join a Constellation!

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At 10:30 pm this week, I discovered that the northern lights were ablaze. I learned this not by looking out my window, but by seeing photos friends had already posted on Facebook. And of course, some of the best photos were taken right in front of my house. Disgusted, and excited, I peered eagerly out my windows over the ocean for any faint remaining glimmer. Nothing.  Not to be defeated, I proclaimed a “Northern Lights Search Party” and yanked my sons out of bed. (They were both still awake, reading sneakily by flashlight.)

We jumped into the car in various states of deshabille, and drove to the top of a mountain up a switchback road, passing–count them–30 cars on the narrow gravel passage coming down. The whole town was out tonight!

At the top of the mountain, beneath massive windmills, we scoured the black horizon for the shimmering waves of light–but saw only blackness, and then, something else.  As our eyes shifted to night mode, they  appeared, faint at first, then growing in intensity until we all gasped–a swimming sea of stars, like the night ocean alive with phosphorescence. Living on an island, under the heavy clouds of a maritime climate, we seldom see the stars. We bathed in their glory together for a long moment while the windmills strong-armed the sky overhead.

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None of us are entire strangers to the stars. Every time we fling our book, our blog post, our music, our photographs out into space, we feel we’re launching a ship to the moon. We aim our hottest work, our sparkling, shattering words out into the universe, and then we wait. We wait for the world to come to us, to drive up the mountain to see us, to beckon to our dazzling light. We wait to become a star.

I would like to say I’m different, but I’m not. Somewhere inside even the most capacious heart, there’s a longing to be known. And outside the heart, our writing bosses command us to expand our platform. Inside and out, we begin to crave that far-off glittering goal, forgetting our real experience on the nights we gasp at the real cosmos. Those nights, save the sun, there is no single star that knocks us down. It is the panoply of stars that takes our breath. It is the collectivity of uncountable galaxies and star-clusters that lights the black sky and plows us down into worship and humility. It is their sheer density and magnitude that teach us our size, and then make us glad to be small.

We are small. We are one among millions of talented, smart, creative others. Lucky us–we get to learn from them all. And the whole world does not come to us. Just a few.  But there still is so much gladness here: that we pursued ideas. That a journal has taken our story. That our blog made someone laugh. That we got to discover new truths. All this, good. All this, happy. Will there be more? Who knows! Just keep at it.

But listen closely. I am not saying dim your lights to take your small quiet place in the choir. Don’t be afraid to be brilliant and bold, to stake out your own corner. Don’t be afraid to question the lights already hung. But know, no matter how dazzling and original you are, you are surrounded by sizzling stars and a radiant moon that itself borrows light from another. Be glad of this.

Moon

Be glad of this. Yes, go ahead and shoot the moon. Aim high. Go ahead and hope you’ll be a star, but better, join a constellation.

I tell you true, when it happens that my own words hang among shining smart glorious beautiful writers and artists and thinkers and creators . . . there is little better joy. I am in awe of them all. They are my constellation. I’m happy that this little northern light of mine gets to wash in their light and shimmy and shine in their midst.

night sky

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20 thoughts on “So You Wanna Be Star? Join a Constellation!

  1. Leslie, you are the most beautifully poetic writer! I love everything you write! Your words are uplifting, because there are so many sizzling stars! It’s easy to feel like a flickering pinprick of dim light low on the horizon.

      • Of course, you’re right! Humble star positioning is a blessing from God! He is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble. It’s far easier to maintain humility when you’re not one of the bright and blazing ones! I want to serve where he has placed me. Thanks for the reminder, Leslie.

  2. Thank you for throwing some of that stardust my way. It makes some wonderful things grow. I love those times we chase the night sky with kids and cameras.

  3. You take my breath away with this glorious post, Leslie. And how true it is, to be part of the constellation of writers is finding joy in the combined glow of a shared passion. Thanks for making my morning shine!

    • Thanks so much, Jan!! We all war with our spirits when it seems so many others are more successful than we are—-but thankful for these truths displayed in the stars last week. Happy to be among you all!

  4. Leslie, your words and photos are such a blessing and most certainly brighten this morning. Thank you! My spirit seemed to be picking up on the gray, drab, fall day unfolding outside my study window, but your insights and sharing have come along just in time. 🙂 So appreciate all the lovely stars who inhabit this constellation of creativity and encouragement!

  5. Leslie ….this is just glorious…first the beauty of the Northern lights…what a glory to behold…but yes…aren’t we more glorious than all these…the closest we see God is in the face of another…not the beauty of the skies…I love that God gave us such a beautiful picture of the beauty in each soul…but I am guilty of not finding beauty in others so many times….and oh how I long to see each person as that bright star…and when we see them all together we don’t compare the brightest one with the ” dullest” one….because together the light is too beautiful to do so…thank you thank you…if am taking this with me today…and I am going star gazing right in the middle of this day…

  6. I love this analogy! Stars shine, but constellations are brilliant 🙂 thank you for this encouragement and the sense of WONDER at getting to participate in the Lord’s sparkle.

    • Dorothy–confession: the photos aren’t mine. I’ve never had the luck of seeing the lights with actual camera in hand! The rest, yes, my efforts. Thanks for reading. ALways grateful.

  7. I’ve seen the Northern Lights only once in my life. What awesome photos of God’s creation, Leslie!! And I was touched by your message. . .you truly do have a unique writer’s voice.

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