The Sanctity of Stars

"I can predict the movement of heavenly bodies but I cannot predict the madness of men."

Isaac Newton

In Musanze, when the power goes out on a clear night, the Milky Way become visible spreading itself out across the south western sky blanketing the whole of Rwanda underneath a veil of stars.

Here in East Africa along its Eastern edge I question why it is that physicists attempt to understand distant galaxies while I am still struggling to understand why things happen the way they do on this small, obscure piece of real estate called Earth.

Why it is that war, famine, and disease spread sometimes like tornadoes, sometimes like earthquakes, and sometimes like hurricanes destroying almost everything in their paths and how it could be that in these same places, on nights when no rains fall and you can stand infinitesly small underneath canopy of heaven, that you can experience profound moments of peace.

*****

After dinner some of the boys from the team linger outside in a world temporarily removed from the pressures of cycling and their everyday lives wondering how it is that these stars do not all fall from the sky.

In their innocence and in the darkness it is easy to forget that these boys, now men, were made to witness Rwanda's darkest hour and still their eyes are able to see the beauty and wonder of the world.

*****

The contrasts of this country are inescapable and I often get lost in the confusion of the night but then I remember that night, too, has its certainties. This planet is only a microcosm of the cosmos; expanding and contracting, exploding and imploding, shining brilliantly one moment only to fade into the next, all within the tumultuous rhythm of the universe. So who are physicists and astronomers but simply human beings using a little bit of fire and a little bit of light to find their way in the dark.

These thoughts comfort me as I make my way toward shelter and sleep. As I close my eyes I am lulled to slumber by the sounds of motorbike tires coasting down the hill with their engines off and the soft shuffle of feet finding their way home. A dog barking in the night temporarily disrupts the nocturnal symphony that began soon after the sun set.

If we are to believe that god sleeps in Rwanda then these sounds must be his lullabies.

Tonight, dreams come easy.

*****

In the waking hours of daylight, with only a single star to guide my way, I realize that these contrasts and contradictions are the ways in which the world presents itself to us; through struggle and survival, war and peace, pain and preserverance, joy and sorrow, toils and triumphs.

It may be that we live in a world full of contradictions, one that can sometimes seem unjust, imbalanced, nonsensical and asburd, but it is still the only world that we know that sustains life.

So bounded in this unbounded universe and left with left with no other choice...

Give me all or give me nothing

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