Saturday, February 16, 2013

The Comfort of Constants

Every winter, I welcome Orion back into the night sky. I wave at him when nights are clear and blow him a kiss. His presence comforts me and puts life into perspective. Whether good things are happening or bad, Orion shows up faithfully each November when I turn the clocks back, and strides across the night sky until I turn the clocks forward.

My guess is that each of you has something outside your sphere of influence that is reliable and comforts you too. For some, it's the moon; for others, it's the waves. Usually it's in nature because nature seems the most immutable.

But other constants comfort us too. As a child in urgent need of escaping a nightmare home life, libraries became my constant source of comfort. No matter what was going on at home, I could find a new adventure story or mystery or biography or play or poem to help me make it through the days and nights, and even more than that, these stories showed me new worlds and new ideas and gave me something to look forward to and to hope for. The overflowing library shelves offered me, as a young girl and teen, dreams of a different life, a better life than the one I was currently inhabiting. The gems that a library contains, books, became so precious to me that I've built my own personal library full of thousands of books. Every room in my home has books,  and my bed is surrounded by bookshelves. No matter what my mood--light-hearted, pensive, or sad--there's a book to match. And on sleepless nights, the books surrounding me provide soothing balms to the desperation of insomnia.

Some constants do more than comfort us; some remind us of cherished memories. When my children were young and we lived atop a mountain, when the sky was clear and the moon full, we would dance in the moon shadows in our orchard. To this day, when I happen upon a moon shadow under trees, I'm instantly transported to those magical moments of delight and joy, and I can feel my children's small hands in mine and hear their laughter.

Perhaps the most powerful comforting constants of all, at least for me, are Christmas Eve and Easter. They are the two days each year that represent our hope that mankind can achieve it's highest potential of living together in love. Whether you believe that God and Jesus exist or don't believe, it's irrelevant to the topic because the story of Jesus' love and sacrifice for us, true or not, is the point. That a love like that exists in our collective unconscious and in our imagination shows that we are all hoping for, waiting for, and wanting that love to become our reality. So, when the hope of Christmas Eve becomes a Christmas day bringing a surfeit of store bought gifts, and the hope of Easter's sunrise becomes a hunt for plastic eggs, we hide our disappoint and remind ourselves that there is always next year's Christmas Eve and next year's Easter, and we feel a renewed, reassuring hope that the deep, abiding, universal, unconditional love we long for might then, finally, become reality.

Sigh, it's almost time to wave good-bye to Orion for another year. I will miss him, but I am comforted by knowing that regardless of whatever good or bad happens to me or to the world this year, Orion will stride across my night's sky again when it's time to turn the clocks back again in the fall. Orion, books, moon shadows, Christmas Eve, and Easter, these are some of my constant comforts, what are some of yours?

Take care,


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