By Rick Mansfield
For the past several nights I have set the alarm to get up and attempt to view the Perseid meteor shower, one of our more colorful celestial displays. So named because it radiates out from the constellation Perseus. Perseus, the son of Zeus in Greek mythology that killed Medusa. One of the three snake-haired Gorgons that had a countenance that when looked upon could turn the viewer to stone.
Perseus’s accomplishments also included rescuing the daughter of a Greek king from a sea monster. Andromeda, famed for her beauty, was saved from being a human sacrifice and later became inspiration for the naming of an entire galaxy.
I have always been fascinated by shooting stars. Inspired, even. Sometimes consoled. As a young child, I enjoyed the cadence of Perry Como’s recording of Catch a Falling Star. The idea of putting such an amazing act in one’s own pocket also encouraged me.
As I grew older, I came to recognize the message of hope. That we could somehow store away blessings “for a rainy day.” To have a “pocket full of starlight” to later be pulled out to ward off darkness. Either the physical or the emotional.
Later I would hear for the first time I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry by Hank Williams. To call it hauntingly beautiful I still believe an understatement. Many times I have recalled its opening lines; but one particular night comes to mind. I thought the world had ended; someone dear to me had just passed from my life.
Staring into the abyss of a dark and somewhat threatening Ozark firmament, “the silence of a shooting star” lighting “up a purple sky” invaded my thoughts. I was indeed “so lonesome I could cry.” I remained outside, looking heavenward. Looked into the night and saw the work of His fingers.
I am humbled when I cast my eyes into His heavens, especially at night. Save for the occasional airliner transecting the sky, it seems unmarked by mankind. More clean; more pure. More full of promise.