Between the Earth and the Stars

“Be humble for you are made of earth. Be noble for you are made of stars.”
– Serbian proverb

I sat outside last night on a cold evening in front of a warming fire; my body at the line of the radiating heat competing with the sneaky cold creeping up behind me. I inhaled more wood smoke than I should have cheating the line to get just a little bit closer to the fire. Off in the darkness a rustle of fallen leaves in the woods betrayed a wild thing making its way past, and overhead we were serenaded by owls. It was in this moment on the edge of hot and cold, light and darkness that I sat contemplating this quote and the one that follows. Sending an offering to the universe in the form of sparks rising with the smoke. I looked up, following the rising sparks as they climb to join the stars. For who’s to say they don’t reach them, why must they all extinguish on their ascent and return to earth?

“For my part I know nothing with any certainty, but the sight of the stars makes me dream.”
– Vincent Van Gogh

It seems that I am a dreamer. Surely this must be so. For my mind rises with the smoke and ashes to meet the stars. We’re all derived from this humble earth, and return there soon enough. But the stars seemingly burn forever. The stars have witnessed many a fire ritual in the scattered history of humanity, and continued their dance across the sky unconcerned about my veneration. But then a meteor blazed through the sky with no perceivable tale, disappearing in the western sky, as if to remind me that stars have a timeline as well, well beyond our scope of reference.

2020 feels big for all of us, filled with moments that remind us of our small part in the larger game. For the stars, for the earth, it remains inconsequential. And so it must be. But in our time between the two we might derive some inspiration from the stars and make our time on earth a bit more meaningful at a human scale. We too will return to earth, but we don’t have to keep our feet planted on it. We are ourselves an offering to the universe. So burn brightly.

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