Growing up, it was not uncommon for us to sleep out under the stars.
Summer nights in Uzbekistan were hot and dry. So different from muggy evenings in Minnesota where we had come from, where the air you breathed carried the moisture of a ten thousand lakes. No, Uzbek summer nights were dry, hot, and unrelenting.
So on those nights, we’d sleep outside under an ocean of stars.
All five of us kids would sprawl out on so many mats and blankets with both dogs lying below the wooden frame we were sleeping on. I can still remember the smell, and feel on my skin. There’s nothing like a desert night sky to make you feel small.
Not in a bad way though. It’s funny how God doesn’t make bullies, not even in creation. It’s not the kind of smallness we humans sometimes impart to one another, using each other’s weaknesses to step up on in life.
It’s the kind of smallness that fills you with wonder. Instead of making you wonder why exist, it’s the kind of smallness that teaches you your proper place and makes you feel like you belong to a heritage of created things.
I used to wonder if the stars could see us, if we were twinkles they looked down on in their own night sky. Did they try to reach out and touch us too?
While all my brothers and sisters breathed deeply, I’d lie awake feeling the breeze on my face and significantly insignificant.
We don’t treasure the purpose of small things enough.
Maybe because we lose the perspective of the stars?
My small nine-year old life felt tiny, and yet full of infinity. I loved feeling the contradictions embrace one another inside of me, even though I didn’t really understand how they could.
Years later I place too much worth in figuring things out. I’m less content with mystery and more fixated on answers.
I want to make things feel right and orderly. I want everyone to feel like the sun, instead of helping them find their constellation in the stars.
When pain, questions, and frustrations arise, I’m too quick to start a blind search for the unknowable instead of laying back and experiencing my smallness in the midst of it all.
How do we unlearn our need for the finite? How do we relearn to utter the words “I don’t know?”
I’m afraid I’ll lose that child-like acceptance of the mystery of the universe. I’m afraid I’ll lose the peace of feeling small and important.
So today, I’m here to say “I don’t know.”
Tonight I’m resting in an infinity of unanswered questions and the peace of untameable stars.