With the lamp suppressed
The universe enters in
The child gapes with awe
I suppose it must have been the late summer. I had been spending the month on the idyllic Island of Bute on Scotland’s west coast. We had a cabin with no running water or electricity. My job was to go and fill up the water containers from the communal well. Cows would cautiously approach and stare curiously whilst the smaller ones would shuffle through for front-row viewing.
At dusk, we would light paraffin lamps to illuminate the nights. My father would read children’s books. We were all ears as he read Heidi, Tales From 1001 Nights and Chinese Folk Tales. We ate freshly made pancakes washed down with jam and small glasses of sweet stout.
The lamp caused a sibilant sound as it burned up kerosene. It flickered and fostered sleepiness. It finally slumbered for the evening, and we would retire.
I lay there in my bed watching the stars cascading through the window; every one of them. And I wondered if the Chinese farmer boys, or the Bedouin shepherd boys or the milk maids in the Swiss mountains were seeing and feeling the sense of awe that I felt in my heart as the universe entered in.
I read many years later, the following:
When I observe your heavens, the work of your finger, the moon and the stars, which you have established in their place, what is the human mankind, that you…care for them? Psalm 8:3,4