A few nights ago, my family arrived home late after being out of town at a baptism for two of my nephews. When I pulled Ivy from the car, she looked up into the sky. It was dark. Our outside house lights were not on, and because we live in the middle of the woods, the only visible light came from the twinkling stars overhead. It made for quite an impressive sight–a sea of stars so beautiful, it took Ivy’s breath clean away.
“Mommy!” she said, pointing upward. “What is in the sky?”
|Photo courtesy of National Geographic.|
Her voice was sleepy and small, an impression I felt keenly as we looked at the vastness overhead.
“Those are the stars, baby. Aren’t they pretty?”
“I’ve never seen them before,” she said, her eyes full of wonder.
It was the sweetest acknowledgement, honest and sincere. This world is a mighty big place. Except for Ivy, it really hasn’t been. And rightly so. She’s not quite three, after all. She wouldn’t think to go outside and look into the dark night sky unless someone prompted her to do so. As each day passes though, she’ll experience more and more of the world, and notice more of the beauty that exists in so many places. And not just in the natural world around her. She’ll see beauty in people too.
Last weekend I went to my Aunt Jane’s funeral. Jane was too young to die. Her cancer was fierce and painful, so much so that her death was a tender mercy to end her suffering. Had my sweet Ivy gotten to know her great Aunt Jane, she would have known a person that was full of beauty. She was remembered well at her service–by her children, her siblings, and a room brim full with people that loved her. There was beauty all over that room.
As I think the words before I write them, they sound trite and cliche. (But I’m going to write them anyway.) I hope Ivy always remembers to look up and see the stars. Because life can be hard and death can be hard and clouds can seem heavy and thick, but the stars are always there. I don’t ever want her world to be too grim, or too busy, or too narrow for her to take a breath and look heavenward.
Because we do live in a beautiful place. By watching the news, you might think we are falling apart at the seams. And I won’t argue that many things do seem to be unraveling. But for every story that makes you clench your fists, that makes your heart stop as you think to yourself, “What is wrong with this world?” there is another, as heartwarming as the other is awful, to encourage and inspire and remind you that people are beautiful and stars are real and God is everywhere. He is in the stars. I’m certain he was in the room while we celebrated Jane’s life. He is in Ivy. He is in me and you and all of us. Amen.