The parson was sitting on the concrete of his driveway. The driveway was steep, very steep, heading up a foothill, one that deters visitors. The parson is appreciative of that. Cool was the night, with a gentle breeze blowing. The computer had been powered down. The day had been a busy week. The parson sought solitude, a quiet moment, before setting the alarm to signal a repeat.
Charlie Brown, the parson’s faithful canine companion, sat next to the parson on his left. Princess Penny, Charlie Brown’s girlfriend and competitor for the parson’s affections sat in the same position on the parson’s right. All three stared into the valley below.
The lights of the traffic along I-75, as well as those transversing the interstate over the bridge of the highway that led to the parson’s church, gave evidence that despite the lateness of the night, activity still punctuated the rural county.
For a brief instance the clouds overhead opened a window to the moon’s glow. The parson looked up, staring at the orb that defined the night and the tiny lights of stars and planets that punctuated the emptiness of space.
The parson’s memory went back four years previous. He and Ms. Parson were wandering the wilderness of Wyoming and Montana after exploring Yellowstone. It was night. It was dark. They rode and rode and rode.
Ms. Parson was consulting a map by flashlight. The parson was driving, patiently awaiting some direction. “Ah, I think I made a mistake,” said Ms. Parson.
“What do you mean, you made a mistake?” asked the parson.
“Let me translate that for you,” she said. “We’re lost.”
It was dark that night. Somehow the word “lost” made it more dark. The parson looked at the fuel gauge. No problem. Sooner or later they’d get somewhere.
“Look,” proclaimed Ms. Parson, “there’s a sign for a lodge. We could go there to get directions. Take a right.”
The parson took a right onto a dirt road. About two miles up the dirt road it got smaller, much smaller. Another half mile brought them to the creek that had to be forded. The parson made a decision. “We’re going back to the highway.”
With the precision of an accomplished circuit rider, the parson managed to turn the car back in the direction they’d come. It was halfway to the highway when nature whispered to the parson. He stopped, put the car in park, pulled up the emergency brake and began to exit the car.
“What are you doing?” she asked.
“Taking care of nature,” the parson replied.
At a certain age, taking care of nature is one of the real pleasures left to old men. The parson was enjoying the pleasure when he looked up.
“Oh, my God, Lynn, get out of the car,” he said. “Look at this.”
She opened the door, exited the car. “What?” she asked.
The parson pointed to the stars, the thousands and thousands of stars, maybe millions of stars. So far from the lights of civilization were they none of the stars were hidden by human-created lights.
“It’s beautiful,” she said. “Look at them.”
Soon they both were laying on the trunk of the car, heads on the back window, staring at the vastness of space not visible from their driveway. They didn’t say a word. They just stared and marveled and worshiped.
“Look,” said Ms. Parson. The parson, startled, woke. Ms. Parson pointed to the sky. The morning sun was slowly closing the door to the the depth of space.
The parson remembered. He rose from the driveway. Charlie Brown and Princess Penny rose, too.
“You know, canine friends,” the parson said. “It may be time for me to go see the stars once again.”