There’s a star I used to look for in the night sky. It wasn’t Venus. I was enough of an astronomy nut back then to know that the one glittering cosmic unit I sought out as the darkness fell was not a planet nor was it a familiar, named star.
Instead, this was a star that had seemed to call to me for as long as I can remember. When I was a small boy in the northern Ontario bush, there’d been a connection between us. I could feel it back then, just as I could feel it as a young man.
I don’t know when I first became aware of it. I only know that for the longest time it was a part of my evening ritual to look for it, to scan the heavens until I found it and then heave a deep breath like satisfaction.
I called it the Far Star. As far as astronomy goes it lay somewhere to the right of Vega in the constellation Lyra. That’s a triangle of stars you can see in the summer and on into autumn. You have to look for it. It’s not an easy read.
It was the Far Star because of loneliness. When I was a small boy I never knew my family. I was a foster kid and had only really known that sense of dislocation that all foster kids feel when they know the home they call home is not really home at all.
But seeing that star made me feel attached. As long as it shone in the heavens, as long as I could search for it and find it, I always felt as though my life and my world were being watched over and guarded. I felt protected and safe.
The Far Star was hope. As I grew older and relationships sometimes ended or life did not turn out as the answer to my dreams, finding the Far Star grounded me in hope. As long as there was that glittering star I could hold, I could persevere, I could prevail.
We all need symbols in our lives. We all need linch pins to spiritual truths. We all need beacons to lead us to ourselves. I still look for that star sometimes. When I find it, I recall comfort and the idea born when I was small that hope rests in common things and always will.