Looking up to the Night Sky
We are two of maybe thirty volunteers sitting around the main hut eating dinner. The first night in Sadhana Forest Haiti, Anse-A-Pitre is a mixture of lonely isolation and deep connection for me. We are all so far removed from our lives back home, and I am just beginning to warm up to the crowd.
I strike up a fleeting conversation with Rosie, a woman about my age from Scotland, that truncates as I look up -- all my words are lost for the stars in a shout of awe. The night sky is lit up like a field of fireflies after a rain-storm. I could see further into the depths and vastness of the cosmos than ever in my life.
My heart leaps out to them as if to be with them. But for as clustered as the stars appear, I know they are light years from each other, from me. I watch the stars curve around the horizon and send my thoughts out into the universe, reflecting on the times my father would tuck me in at night and we’d have a benevolent battle:
“I love you” he’d say.
“I love you, too” I’d say.
“I love you three”
Then I was the variable: confused at first, then frustrated that he kept doing this every night, and then I’d play along.
“I love you four”
And so on…
“I love you all the odd numbers, and there are more odd numbers than even, so there. Beat that.” He’d say like a child himself. And that’s when I learned about infinity.
Then one night I opened up:
“I love you all the times it goes day and night, times infinity to the infinitieth power.” I began. “I love you all the stars in the sky times infinity to the infinitieth power. I love you all the blades of grass times infinity to the infinitieth power… and that’s it! I win!” I said, even though essentially there was no contest.
I am not three going on four years old any more, I am twenty-three going on twenty-four. Nor am I covered in warm blankets in the lush hills of southwest Pennsylvania, I am on the frontier of a "waste-land" at the edge of the sea. Yet for all the experience and insight I’ve gained in those twenty years, I wonder if I was wiser as a child.
I focus my gaze on the stars, all I can feel in the moment is gratitude.