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Lions Roar : May 2008
SHAMBHALA SUN MAY 2008 85 that night, even through the telescope, it was still just a blurry reddish speck, 500 light-years away. The moonlight was so bright you could almost read by it. Skye and Alex, momen- tarily satiated on outer space, practiced their cartwheels. May and I sat on a low cement wall and watched them: two boys as mysterious and impermanent as spin- ning planets, their bodies made from star- dust forged in the belly of an ancient sun. I imagined the awe of the first astronomer to point a telescope at the sky and see Saturn’s rings, when for millenia humans had only been able to see a dot in the sky, a deity whose movements they believed could plunge their own lives into chaos. Years ago, I had asked May how she managed to stay so cheerful as she worked to keep Alex healthy—researching treat- ments, taking him to doctors, keeping him strong with supplements, and praying for science to come up with a cure. She’d said, “No one knows how long they’re going have with their child. I just try to enjoy every day.” As I watched the boys turn cartwheels under the moon, a Zen chant ran through my head: “Within light there is darkness, but do not try to understand that dark- ness. Within darkness there is light, but do not look for that light.” No one knows what gravity is, Skye’s space books have informed me. It’s just a convenient name we give for the attraction that keeps the moon wheeling around the earth and the earth around the sun—that keeps the different pieces of the universe yearning toward each other, instead of ricocheting off into space. Watching Skye and Alex turn cart- wheels, I ached with longing to keep them both happy and safe in a world of car wrecks and viruses and guns and bullies and malfunctioning genes. It was a wish so huge I couldn’t even calculate its size; there were too many zeroes. All I could do was be present with them both: Feeling the tug on my heart of everything in the universe I knew was there, but I couldn’t see. Peering through telescopes at stars dying and being reborn, light-years away. ♦ MAY 80-105.indd 85 MAY 80-105.indd 85 3/6/08 4:37:41 PM 3/6/08 4:37:41 PM