I have many gaps in my education, and I do not spend as much time as I ought to in filling them. The list is long and daunting.
Last night, when I walked with the dogs for the last time before bed, I looked up with wonder at the many more stars that are visible here on the Island, and, for the thousandth time, I felt ashamed that I could not name more of them. I have often meant to learn more of the constellations, but my progress is slow and I am easily distracted by daily life.
Tonight, after much nagging from the dogs, I interrupted my reading to take them out into the night. On All Saints Day, with Pete and Moses joyously romping around me, I walked in the dark, speaking the names of my beloved dead. My mother, my father, my grandmother whom I knew, my grandfather whom I did not; the grandfather whom I knew, the grandmother whom I did not. My cousin, Keith; my Uncle Bill; my Uncle Ken; my school friend, Dawn; my friend Bill; my mother-in-law, Kay; my honorary parents, Tom and Carol, and many others.
The dogs, who know my moods, but not their meaning, ran to and fro, happy merely to be outside and with me. The sound of the waves on the lake was slow and steady. The winds are still after yesterday’s wild weather.
Coming back up the path to the house I looked up, and realized that along with Ursa Major, there was another constellation I thought I knew, in the shape of a W. It was, I think, Cassiopeia, located almost above our heads. The crescent moon, which must be waxing, was large as it was setting into the Lake below the crest of the bluff.
The dogs were as indifferent to the stars as the stars are to human lives. But knowing things is both a burden and a gift.
Tonight, when the souls of the dead are closest to us, may they rest; may they find peace; may the momentary beauties of their lives enhance eternity. World without end. Amen.