"Look at the Stars look at how they shine for you” - Coldplay
Every night the stars watch over us like primordial gods, a reminder of distant galaxies and their hidden mysteries. Even though their light gives off the illusion of an existential reality, most of them are in fact no longer in existence, having burnt out way before the luminous rays reach our line of sight. Paradoxically they seem alive but they are actually a distant memory in the universe, a reflective prompt that all of life at some point must face its mortality.
For centuries stars have fascinated our scientific imagination and our mythological story telling, their radiance and beauty has romanced the great science fiction poets and writers with other-worldy admiration. The ongoing search for extra-terrestrial life is permanently imprinted on our psyche, not so much the discovery of an ET like creature or some kind of advanced alien life force, but micro-organisms that point us to the possibility of our origins or any future planetary repatriation.
The ancient mariners used the stars to guide them over the great seas, and all indigenous peoples listen to the stars like an astrological muse who guides us into our future. The early civilisations believed in the Zodiac, a belt in the heavens that could be divided into 12 equal divisions or signs that represent the calendar year, locating each of us under the auspice of their divine meaning and purpose. The novel idea of reading a daily horoscope has been enculturated in our modern imagination, a superlative talisman that somehow opens us up to new future possibilities.
Primitive peoples considered the Stars to be the Campfires of their Ancestors, forebears who looked down and guided them; and to whom they looked up to for Spiritual Guidance.
Our Christmas story comes complete with its own iconic star, a heavenly body that points to the incarnation of Jesus, its allure leading foreign Magi from distant lands with gifts for the god-child. This enduring story has calendared our lives for centuries shaping the genesis of religious devotion in the Christian tradition. A decorative star is often found atop our christmas trees, a reminder of the collusion between heaven and earth in shaping this new narrative, its mystical gleam constantly evoking a posture of wonderment and awe.
"When you wish upon a star, makes no difference who you are, anything your heart desires, will come to you" - Jiminy Cricket
Today the stars are an idiomatic part of our vocabulary shaping the conversation as it pertains to desire, ambition, inspiration, guidance, and creative brilliance. Sayings like, ‘Reach for the stars', ‘She has stars in her eyes’, ‘Its written in the stars’, ‘Thank one's lucky stars’ have become mantras that allude to the mystery and magic of imaginative hopefulness that is referenced in the night sky.
God's glory is on tour in the skies, God-craft on exhibit across the horizon. Madame Day holds classes every morning, Professor Night lectures each evening. Their words aren't heard, their voices aren't recorded, but their silence fills the earth.. Psalm 19 (MSG)
When we look up,we take our eyes off the so-called concrete familiarity of our known status in life and we reach out to the universe as if to ask for help and assistance from the God we believe is forever enlarging our consciousness. Astronomers believe that the universe is constantly evolving and expanding, its life force unrestrained by limitation or constraint, a metaphorical reminder of how the stars open our eyes and hearts to the unbounded possibility of growth and progress.
Every year the Matariki cluster of stars also known as the Pleiades appears in our mid-winter night to signal the beginning of our Maori new year. Matariki literally means the ‘eyes of god’ (mata ariki) or ‘little eyes’ (mata riki) which is traditionally understood as a time to celebrate new life, a time of singing, dancing and feasting. Christmas is our annual holy Matariki, a time to look up and find a star that evokes a celebratory thankfulness for all that life has given us.
Lift up your eyes and be amazed….