The Gift of a Starry Night

What happens when you’re far from the city and, on a cloudless night, you look up at that great, big endless sea of stars?

Nothing happens, except your life changes, just a little bit. If it is an especially good night, you can feel grateful that the view, and all the events leading up to it, was made just for you.

How can that be, in a universe so big we can’t imagine it? But we CAN imagine it, just a little bit. We can find constellations. We can literally and metaphorically connect the dots. We can glimpse miracles, celebrate serendipity and find purpose where, a few minutes previously, we only saw a long, dark and lonely road.

My examinations of G.K. Chesterton’s writing, thinking and life story continue. He is a marvelous English eccentric: tall and fat in a dark cloak and black sombrero hat, with a sword stick, an unruly mustache floating below his nose, a self-absorption so intense that he would walk into traffic without noticing the danger, a tendency to laugh bombastically at his own jokes, a passion for writing all the time: in cabs (which he rode so excessively that he frequently spent whatever fees he was paid for his writing on cab fare), in pubs, on trains, in restaurants, at home and, occasionally in the office of the newspapers that employed him.

When studying at the Sloan School of Art in London, Chesterton fell into a deep depression. He pulled himself out by discovering (or crafting) a rather happy theology that, while it did not explain everything and seemed maddeningly frivolous, made it easy for him to write, survive the slings and arrows of the publishing business and find an extraordinary vitality, and great spiritual purpose, in the ordinary, the humble, the mundane, akin to the joyous sense of wonder of a starry night.

I want some of that, right now. When I find it, I’ll share it with you. Until then, be sure to look up, even on cloudy nights. Something up there may be waiting just for you.


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