Okay so the pic above is not a night scene with a sky full of stars. This is a day scene of beautiful Mount LeConte where we celebrated my parents’ 60th anniversary last weekend. And connecting with family and wild nature all weekend brought a kind of joy my grandson calls “ginormous.” So where do the stars come in?
The music group Coldplay has a great new song that gets me dancing inside each time I hear it. Okay, if you could see my hands and body when I hear the song they are doing some dancin’ too. The song begins, “‘Cause you’re a sky, ‘Cause you’re a sky full of stars/ I’m gonna give you my heart.” Spending love time with my family and with wild nature over the weekend had me singing the song inside. To them, and the natural world, I say “you are a sky full of stars,” meaning you are “ginormous” to me. You are vast. Your impact on my heart is tremendous. You enrich my life. Just being around you does it every time. And so, as the song says, “I’m gonna give you my heart.”
And there’s more. Opening the heart wide to others will always mean getting our hearts broken. You rub up against people and stuff happens. The ones you love get hurt. That hurts you. In fact, when you are in open-hearted relationships suffering is a given. So as the family love flowed all around over the weekend it should not be surprising that some suffering arose that hurt us all.
My dad started with fever and chills and suddenly developed a bad case of cellulitis in his lower left leg. The fever worsened, the redness spread, and he had to leave the celebration two days early to be hospitalized. This hurt us all. His suffering became ours. The song says it in a dramatic way, “I don’t care, go on and tear me apart/ I don’t care if you do.” The meaning is not that we don’t care if we suffer, but that we are willing to suffer because that is what you do when you love. When you live with an open heart you know some things will tear you apart.
So we quickly packed my parents up, and shared hugs all around, as my brother Roger drove them off to the hospital near Nashville. We then took turns heading there to see our potent, 85 year-old dad reduced to being a pretty sick hospital patient, curled up in bed with eyes mostly closed, exhausted from the fever and night sweats, and weakened by a dangerous illness. “Go on and tear me apart.”
The song goes on to explain further. Why don’t I care if loving you tears me apart? Because “you’re a sky full of stars.” You are of “ginormous” importance to me. You are vast. You are more to me than any suffering this love brings. And so especially to my father in these trying days, I sing and dance and say, “‘Cause you’re a sky, ‘Cause you’re a sky full of stars/ I’m gonna give you my heart.”
I close with a pic of my dad and me and my son and his son. We are four generations of star-gazers, lovers, men who have learned to open our hearts and risk the inevitable heartaches that come with family love. All of us have now lived long enough to know this way. And all four of us still stand strongly committed to the path of opening our hearts no matter what. Why? We have known the mystical wonder of seeing that the ones we love are “a sky full of stars.”