Tonight was spent on a giant rock
in the Sonoran desert (Sabino Canyon),
above big water (swirling with snowmelt!!)
under the night sky
with a buffet picnic of delicious foods lit by one lantern
and 12 friends,
celebrating 2 friends’ Pisces birthdays!
Oh the true delight!!
Photos were all from tonight, but there are no star photos here. (Little iPhone does not do star photos), but there were stars!!! Orion’s belt was in the sky behind me. I could not turn to see because I was carefully balancing a can of olive juice and a pickle jar—that, had I moved, would surely have gone rolling and crashing down the giant rock where we perched!—but my friend assured me that Orion was shining down upon us and “Orion has your back!” 🙂
When I heard this, I was suddenly taken back in time (in my heart memory-imagination) to a moment 17 years ago, when I was out in a different desert-like wildland (the sagebrush steppe of eastern Idaho) camping with a large group of somewhat-traumatized teenagers.
I was working as guide in a therapeutic wilderness program, and the clients were all “at-risk” (not by economic reasons, but with every other kind of challenging family situation, especially neglect and emotional abandonment). We all backpacked around the sagebrush, practiced primitive-living skills, played out search-and-rescue scenarios, and had long conversations by campfires. Their stories of what they had experienced, their insights, and their ideas were often pretty amazing.
One story that has never left me was this: One afternoon, one of the teen boys and I were talking about constellations, and he told me about his secret connection with the 3 bright stars in Orion’s Belt. He never felt his parents’ love. Few friends. Much isolation and sorrow. But he had 3 people who loved him . . . his aunt, and 2 others adults in his life. He thought of these 3 stars as representing these 3 people, so that whenever he looked up into the nighttime sky, he always had this love with him.
I never expected to remember this story forever, but I have carried it with me for all these years. Many nights, when I see Orion’s Belt, I think of this teen boy and the 3 who love him, and I wonder how he is and how all those teens (now nearly 30!) are doing now, and how all the beings who feel lonely in this world are doing tonight, and I am grateful for Orion’s stars, and for this story, and for this remembering.
We all have sky stars remembering who loves you always.