We came seeking the star.
Just a few of us showing up on the open prairie, our silhouettes backlit by a ruby-rimmed horizon and the deepening hues of a lavender twilight.
This was our last chance to see the Christmas Star, so named because this great conjuncture of Saturn and Jupiter might have been similar to what astronomers say the wisemen witnessed over 2,000 years ago.
As I got out of my car, I glanced over to the family in the van next to me where a grandmother’s faded blue eyes peered out at the night sky in steady, unblinking hope. With binoculars in hand, I wandered out onto the prairie under a half moon, etched like a silver Christmas cookie into the navy-blue sky.
Suddenly, the first evening star appeared in the southwest, and although it seemed too dim to be the Christmas star, I lifted my binoculars, and Behold! There was a second star right next to it, one brighter than the other, and I knew immediately I had found Jupiter and Saturn snuggled next to each other as though in a starlight embrace.
As if on cue, a pack of coyotes howled from a nearby woods adding to the magic of the night. Although we couldn’t see each other’s faces in the dark, we strangers shared our joy with one another in scattered whispers of delight as we looked skyward.
In that sacred moment, I sensed I was not the only one praying up to the heavens that this epiphany of light, as it did for the wisemen long ago, might lead us into the New Year with faith and unblinking hope as our guides.
Photo Credit: BILL INGALLS / NASA