Lois Greene Stone, writer and poet, has been syndicated worldwide. Poetry and personal essays have been included in hard & softcover book anthologies. Collections of her personal items/ photos/ memorabilia are in major museums including twelve different divisions of The Smithsonian. The Smithsonian selected her photo to represent all teens from a specific decade.
Starlight, Star-bright - Personal essay
“Is that star falling ‘cause it was bad and being kicked out?” Joy looked up, then at me.
“Maybe the big thing that looks like Mom’s soup ladle’ll catch it.” I giggled. “Or,” trying to scare Joy, “maybe it’ll fall right on your head.”
Joy quickly covered her head with the tiny hands. She hesitated, then looked up again. “There’s a little soup-ladle thing also. Why? And can a star fall into that instead of down and down and crash?”
I shrugged my shoulders. I had no answer, even a made-up one, and knew I could stall and Joy would forget the question. “Make a wish. You know. ‘Twinkle, twinkle little star’, but now you do the ‘wish I may, I wish I might, have the wish I wish tonight.’”
“What do I wish for?”
“How do I know what you wish for. It’s your wish.”
“Mm,” Joy paused. “I wish one day I’ll have pink satin toe shoes and twirl and twirl and twirl.”
“Okay. Anything for right now?” I knew toe shoes were years away. “Like wishing Mom would get rid of the linty chenille bedspread so we could sit on our beds and our skirts wouldn’t look like snow covered things? Or wishing we could be at the beach all day and not have bad sunburns.”
The sky was peaceful. I didn’t know why the ladle-looking things were called dippers, but I liked the shape. And I didn’t know why some stars twinkled and one really bright one didn’t, but the darkness and sparkles pleased me. “We have to go in the house now. It’s your bedtime.”
“Okay.” Joy paused, and then said “I wish my bedtime could be later.” She smiled.
Words and concepts were special, even then. Wishes were not hopes, and hopes were not prayers, and I was selective as I phrased each. So even gestures, to me, had to be considered before accepting them or personally using any for nourishing my wants.
Wishes on stars were like sing-song rhymes, intended to just be sentences to cause smiles. A dark sky was just that until sprinkled with tiny lights that magically appeared for no purpose except appreciation of Nature. Sure I’d read about the North Star and navigation, but I wasn’t sailing the open seas, or climbing, or even fleeing in a northward direction under cover of darkness, so navigation and astronomy were merely ‘courses’ in school, and little more.
Hopes seemed to be personal, more like a poem’s free verse where a snapshot is frozen with words. Hopes were my achievement goals whether long-term or momentary. I didn’t hope-for an A in a school subject unless I knew I’d worked hard enough on the course to have earned it, so it wasn’t abstract.
Prayers. I slid under the covers each night as if I were going to rise, without any doubt. My parents said wishes could be trivial, hopes might be inner desires, but prayer was unique and not to be abused.
I think ‘be safe’ before a family member flies . This really is more than a ‘hope’ yet not wasting a prayer in case there is an allotment for each person.
There’s a gratitude in my understanding of a power I can’t see or touch, and that my existence has either a purpose or some meaning. I’m aware of my gift of life and intelligence. My respect for that is living with the values my parents gave me, appreciating the environment, nurturing sensitivity and kindness, and awe when praying.
“Grandma. Why do stars twinkle? Oh, did you see that falling one? Was it bad and being kicked out of the sky?” I also heard my younger sister’s words from decades and decades ago as I listened to this grandchild, and watched the wonder in his eyes.
“Make a wish. You know. ‘Twinkle, twinkle little star’.” In time, he’ll understand his own life will be a snapshot, and sanctity of prayer is different from wishes.
Published summer 2012 “Shemom”
reprinted 9-2012 Messenger Post newspapers
reprinted summer 2013 “The Lutheran Digest”