We stood on the dock under the star packed sky. We stared up into the darkness and marveled at the brilliant display above us. My husband and I, along with several of our boating friends, were staying at a marina in Maryland, just off the Chesapeake Bay. We are quite an eclectic bunch…displaced Kentuckian, Floridian, Puerto Rican, Cuban, and Romanian friends…but we have shared numerous boating adventures and truly value our time together. This particular trip one of our friends’ moms was with us, she is visiting from Romania and speaks very little English. For most of the trip, she has sat in the background, a quiet smile on her face as she takes in all she sees and hears. Because of her lack of English and my lack of any other language, she and I have only exchanged smiles, nods and a few conversations translated by her daughter. However, this night, under those amazing stars I understood her clearly.
As we were oooohhing and awwwing over the numerous stars, one of our friends brought out a unique instrument. It looked like half a binocular at first. It was a night vision monocular. Through its lens, the pitch black departed and every sliver of light became amplified. I took my turn and peered through it up at the stars….it was breath taking. Where once I saw millions of glittering stars, I now saw trillions of glittering stars. Through this lens, I could see stars upon stars, beyond stars. I could not stop looking. I did not want to pass it on so someone else could see. I even lay down on the dock and held it to my eye trying to take in the intense beauty it revealed. Then it was time to share.
We handed it to our friend’s mom and encouraged her to look upward…no translation was required to know what she said. Her mouth fell open in awe then slowly formed a knowing smile. Transfixed by the sight, she made gestures indicating the immenseness of it all. I completely understood. She continued to gaze at the stars in wonder. It was a privilege to stand beside her and also take it all in. We had nothing in common. She lives in a country still struggling to grant personal freedom. She has walked through times too tragic to imagine. Her language is beyond my comprehension, her reality far from my own. I watched her as she browsed the night sky, this courageous woman, mother, daughter …her life, her past so complex…but on this night we had something in common, a universe filled with stars. Then she looked at me and pointing to the Big Dipper constellation uttered “Ursa Mare”. The words were familiar if but a little different, “Ursa Major” I replied. We both grinned and smiled at each other. Nothing else needed to be said and we just stood there quietly watching the sky.
“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands. Day after day they pour forth their speech; night after night they display their knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard.” Psalm 19:1-3