The glimmering star

Good Morning from the International Space Station, by Scott Kelly Public domain via Wikimedia Commons

Good Morning from the International Space Station, by Scott Kelly
Public domain via Wikimedia Commons

“If in the dusk of the twilight, dim be the region afar,
Will not the deepening darkness brighten the glimmering star?
Then when the night is upon us, why should the heart sink away?
When the dark midnight is over, watch for the breaking of day.”
Alice Hawthorne, aka Septimus Winner, 1868

These words are from a hymn that I’ve known and sung throughout my early life, but never particularly liked. Its title is “Whispering Hope” which might have been part of the problem. I want hope to shout at me and shut down all the fears and doubts. I want it to drown out all the chaos and noise. But as the prophet Elijah found out, God doesn’t always work that way. Sometimes we have to listen for “a gentle whisper.”

In any case, for reasons unknown to me (as I haven’t heard the song in a long time) the words of it came back to me recently, playing in my head, and I could appreciate them much more than I used to. I’ve found it’s that way with a lot of things that I didn’t fully understand when I was younger. I suppose growing older tends to open us up. Sometimes it happens naturally, of our own accord, but sometimes we have to be broken open. Either way, it can ultimately be a blessing if we hold fast to what is most important.

If you are in the midst of a dark midnight, and the future seems only dimly visible, I wish for you a glimmering star of hope to light your fears with promise of better times to come. The universe, apparently, is mostly darkness. But what an incredible difference the lights make!


  1. Good morning, Julia! Wow, that’s an amazing picture! Morning looks so different from that altitude. Last evening, I gazed in awe at the sun setting, from above the clouds, as I flew from Minneapolis to Boston. Although sunsets typically bring me a little melancholy, I watched and realized that sometime soon, the rim of orange would appear in the east as a new morning.
    Today, below the clouds, things look quite gray. But I am convinced that there’s a gorgeous orange – gold, bouncing off the tops of these same clouds.
    I’m glad that I saw the sunset last night. It really helped my perspective. As Ms. Hawthorne so eloquently started, “Then when the night is upon us, why should the heart sink away?
    When the dark midnight is over, watch for the breaking of day.”
    Thank you, Julia, for sharing that gem!

    • Susan, I’m so happy you liked it. Somehow it does help to remember that it’s always morning somewhere. Imagine how thrilling (though possibly terrifying) it would have been for our great-grandmothers to be able to see the sunset from above the clouds!

  2. Jack

    For many years, my childhood recollection of the Robert Louis Stevenson poem was:

    The world is so full of such wonderful things,
    I’m sure we should all be as happy as kings.

    But the actual poem is:

    The world is so full of a number of things,
    I’m sure we should all be as happy as kings.

    As I age, I think I like the real version better. For I’ve learned that rejoicing in suffering, no doubt a “number” as opposed to a “wonderful” thing, is as much a mystery, or maybe much more, than that fleeting feeling I get when things go my way. What a beautiful life, expressed so eloquently in your writings, we get to experience!

    • Jack, that verse has always been a favorite of mine. I learned the “real” version in early childhood, and have reminded myself of its wisdom so often. And yes, “a number of things” is ultimately even more rich than “such wonderful things.” Just knowing about the endless variety of people, let alone animals, flowers, or anything else we could name, is really beyond comprehension. Thanks so much for your kind words about the blog, and for your presence here.

  3. Renee West

    These are the times that try men’s souls and thats why our souls belong to God–I’m THANKFUL!! Love you soo much!!!

    • Renee, I’m thankful too– and I love you too! Thanks for holding me up so many times.

  4. Sending a gentle whisper your way. It does get easier. Unfortunately it also takes time and energy. Grief can swallow us whole. But the sun does shine again, the birds sing, and life, gradually, feels a bit lighter. Arms around you, Julia.

    • Thank you, Alys. Matt and I have had the incredible gift of some California-like weather the past three days, and it has been wonderful. Really warm and sunny. The sound of birds singing and children playing outside can brighten any day. Thanks for being with us!

      • Julia, what a gift indeed. I love the sounds you describe. They’re certainly full of hope and a harbinger of spring. xo

  5. Amy

    Yes the light does make a huge difference. I pray you see a light however dimly and know that though your heart will always have an empty place your life will not always be dark. Two of my favorite verses are about light. Isn’t great that God made light when there was none. Ecclesiastes 2:13. “I saw that wisdom is better than folly, just as light is better than darkness”. This verse tickles me. I wish I was a sage of wisdom but alas I have plenty of days of folly. 😀 1 Peter 2:9. “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light” God bless you my friend. I am keeping you in constant prayer. This was a beautiful post and wow, what a great photo. I love you.

    • Thank you, Amy. That thought about the light where there was none before was a pivotal point in the short story by Roth that I told you I’d have to read to you sometime. Keep those prayers coming. Thanks so much for carrying us for so long. ❤ Love you too!

  6. Sheila

    Julia, I pray that hope will be your “Point of light” and that hope will be there when you least expect it. With hope you are hopeful, a smile may break through the tears, and hope comes with promises of better tomorrows. I hope all of this for you, my friend! Thank you so much for the beautiful note and invitation that came today. Your Jeff, your love! We are so honored to be included in this most special occasion. Please give my love to Matt. I think of him every day when I read The Writer’s Almanac. 💛 Walter is still just squawking away and somewhere in that language is his, “Juia, sure wish I could send a smile to you and M!” 🐥 I’m thinking of you every day, and many moments throughout. Spring is on the way, Julia! Love crossing the miles, Sheila 🙏

    • Sheila, you can tell Walter that just the thought of his sunny-bright colors is enough to put a smile on my face. Yes, spring is on the way! We had such warm weather this week; did you? If it was as warm where you are as it was where we are, I’ll bet you could have spotted some bathing suits out your kitchen window. BUT they are calling for possible snow tonight. Can’t complain, though. I’ve walked now for three days in a row and it has been so healing. Sending lots of love and hugs, along with thanks for being here.

  7. Harry Sims

    Good morning “Bright Star”..
    Your devoted cyber friend.

    • Good morning, Harry! Only now it’s good afternoon. Not to worry, though…plenty of daylight left. The days are getting longer, and I am happy to see it.

  8. Twinkling stars can turn the dark night sky into a magical canvas of promise. It used to be hard for me to think of the Universe as being limitless. I really couldn’t comprehend the vastness. How could something go on forever, with no end? Then I had a dog and I knew. Love knows no bounds, it goes on forever, it never ends. I hope there’s lot’s of bright stars lighting the darkness for you Julia. Be certain, there will be daylight after the dark night. xo K

    • This reminds me about what you said about the sea, how it would bother you to see that endless water. It is really hard to comprehend something unlimited or eternal…and the closer we come to grasping it, the scarier it gets! But hopefully in a good way. Thanks for the encouragement. I’ll keep watching for the light.

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