It’s the Winter Solstice, the longest night of the year, the point at which the seasons turn, the point at which light begins to come back into the world. Humans have long looked at this day and this time of year as a victory of light over darkness, a time of hope, of the potential for peace.
I follow the Star.
For many, the Star is a symbol of Christ, as in the lyrics from We Three Kings:
O Star of wonder, star of night
Star with royal beauty bright
Westward leading, still proceeding
Guide us to Thy perfect light
But for me, as I have journeyed out of traditional Christian religious belief–indeed, out of traditional religious belief entirely–the Star still draws me onward, becoming a symbol of hope, of the joy of mystery.
The Star, dazzling, dancing, whether fixed or with a blazing tail, a bright burst in a dark sky, guides me. In the sky are a thousand million stars, each its own bright dream, still more cannot be seen by the human eye. Each is an ideal or an idea that we might guide us. But beyond the mystery of the stars is the reality–when seen up close, each star is an enormous, blazing force of elemental power and energy, and the universe is filled with them, of other worlds we will never see or fully understand. That, more than anything, fills me with joy and astonishment. I am here, but cannot completely comprehend where, or what I am, or what I might be in the future. I have only what my human senses can bring me, and what my mind might understand, and I understand that this is not, cannot be, the entirety of the story. But, oh, the things I can see, hear, taste, smell, and touch, and the things I can feel.
The stars shone before me. They will shine after me, until they each shine no more. All of this will end, everything I find beautiful, but also everything that is ugly–all the better to hold fast to the former. Our time here, in this conception of “here” as the beings that we are, is infinitesimally short in the sweep of time even on Earth, much less the entire universe, but in that time, what wonders we can forge if each of us, severally and together understands, with humility, how powerful we can be, severally and together.
So I follow. I wonder. I seek. I feel. I hope.
This is what the Star means to me.