It's a quiet starry night, or morning; however you perceive 3 AM to be. One of those nights similar I suspect to ones Vincent gazed at more than once which in spired his painting, Starry night.
I say quiet, yet is nature ever really quiet? There is no wind, no perceivable breeze or air movement. The earth seems to be asleep. But concentrating my eyes on heaven's light show my old ears hear the subdued sounds of mother nature's gentle breathing; frogs and toads subdued snoring, a cricket changes position moving it's violin bow legs against each other, and a muted bird chirp pricks the silence.
These nights, though not rare, are not a common occurrence either. On nights like this where nature trumps social media hands down I revel in memories of a time decades ago when John Pauly and I lay under just such a night sky.
We were stationed together at the 11th Evacuation hospital, Hialeah Compound, in Pusan (now Busan) South Korea. A 4 day weekend off prompted us to explore the rural countryside. Neither of us spoke more than a few words of Korean in a part of Korea where the locals spoke little to no English. With a map and the kindness of the people we encountered we bussed and hiked our way to an area near Taegu where there was a ancient Bhuddist monastery at the base of a mountain. We hiked up the trail behind the temple for what was probably four hours or so. Enough so that when we stopped to eat we were sweaty and tired.
the pause that refreshes; John cooling off in the stream half way up the mountain.
The trail up followed a mountain stream and our stopping to rest and eat was encouraged by the pristine pool of water under a waterfall. So inviting was it that we couldn't resist shedding our clothes and plunging naked into the the icy refreshment, mindful to not let any of the water get in our mouths; Army warnings of the danger of liver flukes paramount in our medical minds.
I've met my God but a few times during my journey here on our planet and this was certainly one of those times. A feeling of peace and serenity filled me to over flowing as I floated on my back looking up, as if in a volcano, at the cloudless, sapphire blue sky. In all my 70+ years I don't recall having the sense of awe and transcendence than at that time, not even in the village churches or cathedrals of France.
Of course we chose to camp beside the pool of water for the night. We had neither sleeping bags nor tents. We must have spread some kind of ground cover on the pebbly shore for I was comfortable. However I couldn't sleep, John couldn't either but only a few words were exchanged between us as we gorged our senses on the beauty of a Star filled night, the lullaby of water falling over rocks and splashing into the pool water, and the belief that we were being granted a sneak preview of heaven hidden away here in this forested Eden. Like Goldilocks's porridge, the night air wasn't too hot nor too cold but just right. No mosquitos or other pesky biters found us. No street lights, no sounds whirring motors or rumbling tires, no cell phones, only us and God. I must have fallen asleep because the dawn sunlight peeking into our retreat awakened me and found me refreshed; body and soul, so to speak.
And so tonight, sitting on my porch at 3 in the morning staring up at the uncountable stars, listening to the sounds of silence, memories helped blot out the mercury vapor lamps, the flickering blue light from late night TVs reflecting through neighbors windows and the highway rumble a half mile away letting me recapture that overwhelming sense of grace and wellbeing I'd touched so many, many nights ago.