To the stars
When I was a senior in college, there was a season when I grew desperate for the stars.
I’m not quite sure why.
I suppose it might have been a blend of all three. However, as I found myself waiting for the future—which could be anything. Which could go anywhere. Which might never arrive—the bold hope of graduate school at Oxford made me crave the constellations at night. I longed to read the maps that could turn the expanse of the cosmos into stories.
I imagined tipping back on the quad in front of our townhouse and drinking in the distant light of far off spaces, reminding myself that as sailors found their way amidst endless, sometimes violent, seas, so too would I find mine.
But the stars never came. Night after night clouds gathered as dusk set in, blanketing the sky, tucking stars and their stories safely away. I grew restless each evening as I left the library, hopeful that tonight would be the night for stars. The waiting started buzzing in my head. Still the clouds continued gathering, and eventually they brought with them unrelenting rain. That April saw more rain in Memphis, Tennessee than it had in twenty years.
By that April I knew I wasn’t going to Oxford. The stars had withheld themselves, and so had my dreams. So the rain poured. I grieved, and I waited, and the rain poured.
I grew sick with rain.
“No more!” I thought. Not that my thoughts mattered. Clearly my longing carried little weight with the Cosmos-Maker. He was more than content to let the chaos of flooding reign.
Eventually, the plan did present itself. It was not at all what I had pictured, but deeply impactful in helping me find roots to my own soul and my own community. What ensued was the start of a more grounded, honest, and present life.
I still run into moments where I am acutely aware of my powerlessness. I cannot always change my circumstances. Sometimes I can only accept and believe. Waiting can feel maddening. Hope can feel scary.
The invitation in these moments is to honor that something is becoming—in me and out in the world. And sometimes rain is part of that becoming.
Maybe I’m not made to connect with constellations—fickle and hidden, far off and burning madly. Perhaps instead, I am like an oak tree. Growing to the heavens. Rooted in the earth. Strong, steady, and memoried. And maybe it is the rain that makes me strong.