Sedona on My Mind
Posted on February 13, 2013
The air is crisp, the desert temperature cooling rapidly now that the sun has made its slow, painted retreat. We stand in a large field, five of us, and stare skyward at a sea of sparkling pinholes. Our guide points out a bluish nebula where baby stars are forming, a “star nursery,” he calls it. To the right, a shooting star falls past the horizon. Overhead, Betelgeuse, the supergiant, glows red. Its neighbor Sirius, the dog star, pulses brightly.
“Look to your left,” says our guide. And we watch a small blinking light rise from behind a mountain. It continues its ascent until the earth’s shadow obscures our view. “That was the International Space Station.” I think of the people orbiting up there, how small everything must look, and how spectacular–the earth a glowing ball of blue and white.
How I wonder what you are.
He beckons us to the telescope and I squinch my left eye closed and peer through the tiny viewfinder. The brightest spot in the sky is now before me, captured like a firefly in a jar. Jupiter. It is blindingly bright, and beautiful. I can make out the brown rings and the four Galilean moons, two a side. I pull back into the darkness for a second and then eagerly squint into the light again, holding my breath, burning the image into my awestruck brain.
I want to take it home in my pocket like a souvenir, this dark night in Sedona. Everything is quiet and magical and cold. My heart is keeping time with the earth’s rotation. I am alive.
Days later, the plane flights and laundry have transported me back to a more muted reality. But as I unpack the dirty shirts and red stained shoes, I can hear the clip-clop of the horses’ feet, see the painted clay underfoot, feel the sharp intake of cold night air under a field of sparking stars. I wasn’t able to fold Sedona into a pocket-sized keepsake. But that bright dusty desert came home with me anyway, lodged in some previously ill-used crevice of my heart.