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Following Stars
by Amy Kenneley

Still dark, the December sky glistens with a million stars as I pick the morning paper out of the mailbox. I glance up at the familiar winter sky - Orion, Big Dipper, Cassiopeia - hurrying back to the warm house.

Ages ago, it was shepherds who were the first astronomers, they say. In different lands and different tongues, shepherds named the constellations, followed their progress, created stories about them.

Perhaps the shepherds in the fields outside Bethlehem were telling stories that night, too. The sheep would have been settled for the night, and after talking about families and the census that was being taken, they would fall silent, and just look up at the sky, and wait for the morning.

A Great Multitude

When the skies opened up and filled with angels and singing, it must have frightened them. Fighting off wolves or thieves was their specialty, but this great blaze of light was something else, never seen by them.

Perhaps they thought of running away, but they had sheep in their care, so they stayed, and they listened. They went to the stable as told. They knelt.

But why are shepherds the first to hear? Why are they first to come to the stable? They didn't even have gifts to bring, as did the Magi.

And why is it that the shepherds have never been given names? The Magi have, but not the shepherds.

Maybe because they weren't big shots. The only gifts they had to bring was themselves, humble men doing humble work. Ordinary people, like us.

They were not busy with the hustle and bustle of Bethlehem town, with people coming and going for the census. They had the time to watch the stars, so the Star came to them.

If that census going on in Bethlehem had survived, perhaps we might have known their names.

Name, Everyman - Occupation, Shepherd

But maybe who they were isn't important. Maybe what they saw was the important part of the story. They were out in the fields, in the silence, so the angels could be heard. They followed the star because they were humble and filled with awe, because they recognized something wonderful had happened.

Simple men, following a simple message: Peace On Earth. The shepherds were star-gazers.

I wonder how much better Christmas would be for me if I could shuck off the hustle and bustle of December to concentrate on star-gazing, too? To be filled with wonder. To take the time to listen.

I toss the morning paper on the dining room table. It opens up to the headlines for the day.

How I wish that headline would read: PEACE ON EARTH.

ClevelandSeniors.com - the home of holiday information for seniors and boomers age 50 and over

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