Fifty some-odd years, I and my fellow stargazers have looked upward to the glory of a million or more stars, dazzling. Is there one among us who has counted the exact number? It might seem poetic or whimsical to say that we gathered them together, continents and oceans apart, or just the house around the corner between us at midnight. Putting the stars into firefly jars and canning jars, as if they would fit. As if the brilliance of the starfire would not kill us or melt the jars and our hands.
But in this story, the jars don’t melt; the stars fit with ease and magically become metaphorical marshmallows of childhood days long gone. Or the marshmallows of the campers still among us. Meanwhile, the wind has provided branches which we sharpen, removing the bark with our knives.
With the rest of storm-fallen branches and dead tree limbs, perhaps hand sawn by a kindly next door neighbor, or someone with a chain saw, a bonfire is built. It’s not really important how we acquire the wood nor where we obtain matches. These are possibilities. However, building the bonfire is an art, an act of devotion, often started while on your knees, head bowed as if in prayer.
Taking our pretend-marshmallows-which-are-really-captured-stars already fiery, the fire-eaters in our midst eat the stars. We must be standing on holy ground as our lips and tongues are not singed. The stars are communion sweet and many songs are sung, not to Satan herself, but in a moment of freedom or irreverence, our words in every language defying dietary laws.
This is because, briefly, we each feel hopeful; we feel happy, and neither money, silver, or gold can purchase this, nor stop us for lack of it. Leaving innumerable stars still in the sky, we feel generous and generosity like kindness, is meant to be shared.
Originally, in this story I imagined all of this happening simultaneously in three places, my mother’s backyard, the woods where my family goes camping, or at the seashore, where bonfires are illegal. Then Jesus walked on the water in my memory and the words became dancing upon the sea.
Despite the current storm of life, I felt dancing was in order. Dancing, a universal action requiring no words. Dancing is never really over; you just rest until the next chance.