Staring up at the summer sky was the one indulgence of her day. After she put the kids to bed, she would retire to the back deck and collapse into her hammock. Some days she felt at peace, wrapped in a warm velvet blanket and other days the dark sky would press down on her, stifle her. Yesterday had been one of those days. She felt like she had spent the whole day fighting her youngest.
“Eat your breakfast.”
“I’m not hungry.”
“Clean up your toys.”
“I don’t want to.”
“Take a bath.”
“I took one yesterday.”
“Brush your teeth.”
Yesterday had been a long day. And she knew that it had not all been conflict, that there had been good moments too, but it had felt quite different. Yesterday she had come out here to rest, but found herself so mentally and physically exhausted she feared she would dissolve into tears and so she got up only a few minutes later. She had looked up at the stars, but not really seen them, being too preoccupied with earthly concerns and hopes for a better tomorrow.
Today had been different. Today had been a good day. The children had been cooperative in their daily tasks and had enjoyed creating forts in their bedrooms out of pillows and blankets pulled from the linen closet. And Anne had wanted to help cook dinner. It had made the task more complicated, but the sense of achievement Anne exuded when they placed the meal on the table made her smile then and again as she lay on the hammock.
Looking up at the stars, she felt joy. Her daughter’s joy of creation, and her joy looking up at creation. The stars glittered down on her. She inhaled a deep, cleansing breath and tried to find the constellations she knew. There was the Big Dipper and there Orion. And was that Gemini over there? She had downloaded an app some time ago, but never seemed to find the time to learn. She reached for her phone intending to find out if her guess was right, but she did not find her phone. She must have left it inside. She considered going to get it, but decided against it, prefering to continue her search of the heavens. One star caught her attention. She had not seen it before. Perhaps it was not a star, but a satellite. She pondered that for a moment - she wished she could blot the satellites out. Not that she bore them any personal grudge, they helped enable the technologies she so enjoyed and were a symbol of mankind’s abilities, but she wished she could see God’s kingdom independent of man’s interference.
She wished to accomplish whatever purpose God had for her on earth, but she could not help wondering what that was. It all became so muddled with the expectations of the people around her. Every day she tried to do her best by all, but when she looked back on days like today she could not help but wonder, what had she accomplished? The most she felt she could boast was that she had done well by her children. But was that enough? She looked at the stars, searching for an answer. The stars were beautiful, but felt distant tonight. They seemed out of reach and cold despite the warmth still lingering in the air.
“What do you want of me?” her thoughts inquired of the universe.
But as usual, she received no reply. What had she expected? Although there were moments she felt fate guide her, like when she had met her husband or stumbled into her job, she could never claim to feel the sense of belonging others professed. She tried to tell herself it did not matter, but she wanted to feel the love and the certainty that all of her work was for the greater good, that she was traveling the correct path.
Things would not be good when she returned to work in the fall and she was not sure what to hope for - a full shutdown would make it impossible for her to do her job to the best of her ability, but it would keep her safe. It was what she hoped for and yet she feared she was being a coward. But while going back would enable her to help many, she could also unwittingly endanger those whom she hoped to help. She did not wish to do that, nor to potentially infect her children. How could she visit her grandmother who was so alone in the world if she was in contact with so many? Or even her mother and father who had only visited them once since this started and that visit had been in a park with masks on, all keeping their distance.
How could they return to life and yet what was the point of life if they did not live it? What was the greater danger? What was the best way to combat that danger? No one seemed to know although everyone had an opinion. Too many uncertainties and it seemed like more arose every day.
At least the stars remained constant in the sky. Their distant points of light offered her hope. She wished they could guide her as they guided travelers in the past. It seemed like society would benefit from a little guidance. The world seems to have lost its way and she was grateful that she could find her own cocoon of comfort in this corner of her deck. But she wondered if it were time for her to break out and do more, be more. This thought in her mind, she focused her eyes once more on the star. As she watched, a shooting star streaked across the sky. Her eyes and thoughts followed it.
“If it can leave its sphere, perhaps it is time I ventured beyond mine too,” she thought, her eyes still seeing the streak of light that had passed across her field of vision. “Perhaps I can leave light in my wake too.”