Thirty years ago I was just coming home from a class when I heard of the explosion of the Challenger space shuttle on takeoff. Like so many others I was devastated by the loss of life and never knew how to respond to it. When the Columbia Shuttle exploded in 2003 I finally had a way to express my grief for all of the women and men in both shuttle disasters. So I offer this poem in memory of 14 brave astronauts.
There are fourteen new stars in the sky tonight
Fourteen new stars whose hopes shown so bright
Fourteen new stars to give us great light
Fourteen new stars to guide us this night
Fourteen new stars in Gods heart … held tight
Do you ever wonder what happens to shadows? I do, sometimes. I mean where do they go when the sun goes away? I have lots of shadows that follow me. I know they are there even though it’s dark and I can’t see them. It’s like the monsters under the bed. I know they are there even if I shine a light, I know, you see they skitter into the dark corners where the light never goes.
All Hallows Eve is the beginning of the time of year I have the most difficulty with. These last two months of the year are thin times when memories and shadows come out of the woodwork of my mind. Yes I have shadows and whether good or bad they are there, a part of me, that follows me wherever I go, whatever I do. And I see more shadows every year and they make me sad for what is gone and what I will never see again.
There is the shadow that is my father, once tall and strong He carried my on his shoulders and let me snuggle with him in church, and showed me the beauty of the stars and the light show that is the Aurora Borealis. Dad was the one who said “Ruth, you can accomplish whatever you want all you have to do is dream and then go for it.” He encouraged me, me his scarred and damaged child, to ride horses, plow a field, drive a farm truck when I was twelve, and hold puppies and kittens in arms with all the love I could give. He taught me to count by having me feed weanling calves, and gave me a bull calf as pet. In his eyes I could do anything and I could. Even when Dad became ill, and weak, I could still see his strong shadow standing beside him. At his death his shadow faded into the wind and while wisps of him cling to my memory he has become a distant shadow.
Then there is the shadow of my mother. A lion hearted woman, who fought for me with ever fiber of her being. This was the woman who fearlessly took on the school board to make sure that I, her oldest daughter, would enter school at age 6. You see I had been badly injured the previous June and was still recovering and the school didn’t want to “deal” with a “disabled” child. But I started school on time, all because my Mom had the heart of a lioness and you didn’t mess with Mama Lion.
The shadows have followed me, are following me, wherever I go as I travel this path that leads to whatever life will give me. Some are old friends, some not so friendly, but they are mine just the same. Whenever I turn around I see them jump into those corners. I see just a hint of them, small smudges of dark, and gray. For many years I was afraid of the dark, the shadows that lurk there, but, not anymore. Today I look for them as reminders of days past, friends cherished and lost, puppy hugs and kitten kisses.
Today I see them for what they are, memories, shadows that cannot hurt me unless I let them. I no longer let the shadows rule over me, rather I let them watch as I face the life I have chosen and do what I feel to be right. I am learning not to let them make me feel guilty for long ago actions that I cannot change and from which I learned much. I will let the Shadows stay in the dark and I will light a candle to chase them into the corners. Jesus said no one hides their light under a bushel and He’s right. To hide my light is to let the shadows rule and I’d rather I placed my light in the open to show me the way to go and to keep the dark, the shadows at bay.