A Strange Courage


I lay down on the cool concrete of our front porch and made ready to watch the meteor shower. It was ten o’clock, still a little early, but I knew I was too sleepy to stay up much later. Everything I read said the best time to see the show would be right before dawn when the sky is at its darkest. But I know how my body fails to listen to the alarm clock on a day off of work. I would take my chances and collect what little starlight fell over my tired body at ten p.m.

I found Cassiopeia, and looked for the constellation Perseus below. It’s called the Perseid Meteor Shower because the meteors seem to shoot out of the constellation Perseus in the northeastern sky. It’s an annual occurrence, but this year’s shower is supposed to be especially glam due to it coinciding with the moon waning into a new one. To my dismay, I noted a large amount of light pollution right where the old boy should be. Never mind, I decided to give it a go anyway.

The concrete was cool on my back and the stars above looked like granite. I let the shine take me, and I remembered a William Carlos Williams poem I had recently read:
El Hombre

It’s a strange courage
you give me ancient star:

Shine alone in the sunrise
toward which you lend no part!

I did, indeed, feel a strange courage holding me as I reclined underneath those twinkling lights. My husband came out to check on me, but didn’t stay long. He has no patience for these things.

“I could sleep out here,” I told him, and I stretched my legs out to the edge of the porch. “No you can’t,” he said, and disappeared. But I thought I could, and for a moment I was lost in imagining being kissed to sleep by night-dew, tucked in by trailing fires of meteors dipping low. As if by invitation, I saw my first meteor shoot by, leaving its long tail behind. I waited another half hour and was rewarded with another, before conceding that maybe I needed my soft bed after all.

I fell into a dreamless sleep, starlight my companion.

shine alone in the sunrise …
and I will give you my heart.


  1. says

    I’ve seen picutes of a home where the bedroom has sliding glass doors and a precisely sloped floor allowing the inhabitants to wheel their bed outside and viola! the comforts of cushion beneath the stars.

    I like the effect of joining WCW first line with your last…

    it’s a strange courage and i will give you my heart.


    • says

      That would be perfect! Though my neighbors might think it odd :). That last little bit is a bit corny, I know but it made me happy and seemed right. I’m always amazed at the night sky, and the One who created it.

  2. says

    I so often come away from one of your posts, Laura, with my heart being inspired by the tranquil, deep beauty of your heart-thoughts expressed in words. Blessings and hugs.

  3. says

    One summer several years ago, I slept outside for several nights. First, on my friend’s balcony. I was temporarily homeless (between apartments) and I was staying with her for a weekend. We drug her futon out on the balcony and slept there all night, right in the middle of the city. A few weeks later, I was in a small town outside of Lisbon, Portugal, on a missions trip, and with the idea in mind, I drug my twin mattress from my bunkbed outside on the balcony of the guest house where we were staying. I felt so alive sleeping under the stars and feeling the temperature drop then rise throughout the night.

    • says

      Charity, your stories make me want to sleep outside tonight! Jeff and I have this running joke–I always get so comfy on the couch at night that I ask him if I can sleep there. He always has to be the grown-up and tell me no. So he was merely playing his part when he said I couldn’t sleep outside. I get such a thrill when I think of sleeping under that wide expanse of sky, though. Must be a little piece of that feeling of “so alive” you felt when you did it. Another one for the bucket list, I guess 🙂

  4. says

    Our skies here in the Pac NW were clear for miles the last few nights and I totally did not get the memo about Perseid. That would have been some show. I remember lying on the trampoline looking up at the stars with my grandkids when they lived nearby. Oh, to be still and just watch for hours.
    thank you for the little glimpse of God’s glory.

    • says

      Ah, Jody, I really missed the best of it too. I should have gotten up at 2am or such but these days these old bones are too tired. The fact that I was able to see a couple meteors two nights in a row thrilled me to pieces! You are a most gracious friend.Yes, to be still and watch for hours. I never tire of it.

  5. says

    Living in the Pacific Northwest, I was able to catch them at 11 my time. My daughter (19) and I lay down in our lawn chairs and oohed and ahhed, laughed and talked. We marveled at God’s amazing creation. Next year, we’ve decided we will make a comfier spot with pillows and blankets to watch from. And we will wake up the younger ones to join us…if the skies are clear. I love your beautiful way with words. 🙂

    • says

      I am jealous, Audra! It sounds like you have front row seats to the best light show ever. Maybe I’ll find someone to stay up late with me next year and we can make a comfy night of it too. Something about a clear night when the stars try to outshine each other … I never grow tired of it.

  6. says

    That’s a beautiful poem.
    I’ve never really witnessed a meteor shower but I love star gazing. A few falling stars here and there can give me joy. 🙂

    • says

      Thank you, Mary. Yes, it was lovely. Though, next year, I’m going to try to stay up later so I can see more activity. Maybe I’ll do as Charity suggests and move my soft bed out into the yard!


  1. […] hold prayers on my lips, and practice trust. I stand in the middle of the yard at two a.m. and watch for falling stars. It is cliché to say that in the darkest part of night the light kindles to flame. But I have […]

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