I was lucky. The Friday night before Christmas, I saw the Milky Way.
Photographer friends of mine would say I did not really SEE it because of light pollution However, from my son-in-law’s windswept driveway, I was able to see enough of our covering blanket of stars to know it is still twinkling above us.
Two thirds of the population of the western world have never seen the Milky Way. Light pollution is so rampant over the Earth, creeping into the night like a brilliant rash, covering the East and West Coast of America, Europe and parts of South America, that I feel privileged to catch a glimpse of our stars.
From Rick’s desolate yard in rural Colorado, I looked to the northwestern sky, let my eyes adjust (in the dark your pupils open like giant telescopes), and I watched as as a veil of stars rose overhead and twisted down to the southeast horizon. Layers of light pulsed toward me, from the palest background of the farthest star fields to a lace net of sharp pinpoints of night shine. The beauty is so profound, so unchanging, standing under its arch is a connection with creation. Although the Milky Way’s light was generated billions of years ago and is just now reaching us, it looked the same to primitive man as it does to us now.
The stars steady me. They appear in their season New Year after New Year. Long after I’m gone some yet-to-be-born woman will stand here, and she’ll be comforted by the stars. She’ll wonder how long the stars have been here and how long they will shine. And, if I could, I’d l tell her.