Where we live it is hard to see the stars. Outside our door I look up and there are only a few stars. I can see the big dipper by looking at the bright stars and drawing a line in my mind between them.
The problem is light pollution. Ambient light and humidity limits what I can see. Only the brightest stars are visible in the city.
But when I come to the sea and stare out into the black night, the sky is a cacophony of stars. I don’t see just a few stars, but see millions. I see what we used to call the Milky Way. It is a ribbon of glitter across the canvas of black.
And I also see the black spaces beyond. I know that there are trillions of stars, the light of which has not yet reached our eyes. And beyond that dark, I know there are thousands of galaxies made up of trillions of more stars.
These stars are like the stories of our lives.
There are a few stories we tell ourselves that make up how we know who we are. They are often stories that shine bright in our memory. They may be stories of sharp pain, trauma, ecstasy, love, achievement, betrayal, shock. These stories form our identity.
But, beyond the few bright stories we tell are thousands, yea millions of events that make up the galaxies of our lives. There are stories of subtle care, of tender touches we take for granted, of kindnesses that embrace us, of fears that haunt us. There are stories of smiles from strangers, of snuggles from grandchildren, of quiet silence with lovers. We are more than trauma, more than the bright stories we tell.
And sometimes when we are driven out of the light of our lives and into the black night of our souls we remember those stories. We open ourselves to the fullness of our lives when the ambient light of normalcy fades and we are staring into the abyss of a dark and unknown future.
When you wonder about who you are, take time to listen to the quiet stories of your life. Allow new constellations to be formed and draw new lines of connection between those stories. Chances are, you will discover that your life is much richer and fuller than you might have thought.