The Star Child
by Silvia Hartmann
There once was a time, and there once was a place; and this place, it was a great meadow by the side of an old forest of the darkest green with the tallest trees which lay around the flanks of great soaring mountains like a royal cloak.
In this meadow, there lived a woman in a house that was golden and warm; bright and airy, snug and cosy and just decorated enough with loving touches to make this house into a home.
The meadow was beautiful, as was the valley beyond; so was the great forest and the mountains. The air was bright and clear, just as bright and clear as the fresh brook which ran through the meadow, bringing the finest, most delicious water from the springs high up above; and always, the skies were radiant, in dusk or dawn, in rain or snow, in highest summer sun and just the same when diamond stars were whirling up ahead.
And yet, and even though she lived within this blessed land, the woman was unhappy, for she was lonely and she wished for nothing more than to have company, to have a child to care for and to call her own, that she might have a reason in the mornings to arise and someone to whom she could sing songs and tell the ancient children’s tales.
Night after night, and day after day, she would cry and weep and pray for a child to come to her, for a miracle to happen; and after many years of crying and of praying, it was by chance that a most radiant being passed that way and heard her distant cries.
The radiant being came swooping closer, in long, drawn out spirals, closing in and down until at last, it did emerge upon the meadow, just behind the house where once again, the woman lay and cried and prayed.
The radiant being made itself known, and the woman was most astonished but also most delighted, for everyone who cries and prays deep in their hearts of heart do hope that such thing will happen, that a radiant one will come; for else, what would the purpose be?
The woman started to tell the radiant one in a great flood of words and of gestures, of expressions about her plea but of course, there was no need for that at all, and the radiant being made a slow motion which silenced the woman instantly, and then it spoke to her, right deep into her mind and it told her that it was on a far mission, to find those who would take care of a star child for a time, whilst the star child was still small and needed just such care; but that there were certain conditions that would have to be observed.
The woman was overjoyed and cried out immediately, “Oh yes! Oh yes! I’ll do whatever it takes, whatever you want, I will be a perfect mother to the star child! Whatever the conditions, I say yes!”
The radiant being understood that the woman’s need was great after all those years of crying and of praying, and it was very kind but firm and it told her that the conditions were important, and that no star child could be given to a home without it being absolutely understood what was to happen, and agreed upon by everyone in every way.
The woman nodded and even though she was full of dancing impatience, she understood that the radiant one thought this to be important and that no star child would be had unless she listened, and she did, but only just with half an ear as the radiant one explained the child would be with her only for a certain time and that she must be prepared to give up the star child when this should be called upon to do.
“Of course! Of course! I’ll do everything I can to be the best, the very best mother any star child ever had!” the woman cried and then she held her breath for fear the radiant one might change their mind, but they did not.
The radiant being told her to prepare a room, a bed and told the woman that when the day after the next would come to show the first of the night stars close to the horizon, it would return and bring the star child for her care taking.
“Oh thank you! Thank you!” the woman cried but even before the first “thank you” had faded, the radiant being had swept upwards, outwards and away and was no longer to be seen.
The woman scrubbed and cooked and cleaned and prepared and she was so full of excitement that she could not sleep at all; and the afternoon of the second day seemed to take a dozen lifetimes as the sun crept slowly across the sky and finally, it disappeared in gold red glow behind the mountains and the night came, velvet and purple, and there was the first star twinkling bright.
As the woman watched the star, she saw that it grew brighter and then brighter still, and there was the radiant being, swooping in and down, and in their arms, they carried a small child of such beauty and such glory as you have never seen.
The woman wept like never had she wept when the radiant being placed the child into her waiting arms; but this was not the usual noisy crying that the woman had been practising for all these years, instead these were river tears of joy and gratitude and admiration as she beheld the star child in her arms.
It was perfect, alive and radiant with light, and this was a light that touched the woman’s heart in the most strangest of all ways, and it touched her soul, and touched her mind, and all her body, all her being like a song – and then there were no longer any tears, just joy and gratitude in radiant glory as the woman looked up to see the radiant being there and she thanked it with all her everything for having being given this the greatest gift of all.
The radiant being was still and beautiful, and it reminded the woman that she should take good care of herself and of the star child, and also that she had promised to give it up when the time had come and the care taking was complete, and the woman nodded and assented, and the radiant being left, up and away into the starry night.
And so the woman and the star child lived in the house in the meadow, and it was a wondrous time, a perfect time for both, and the star child grew from a tiny infant to a young child, and it was full of joy, always, and every thing the star child did discover about the world in which they lived, the woman too re-learned afresh and often so it was that she herself was yet a child again, a one who never saw the snow so white and perfect, crystalline, alive; a one who never felt the touch of rain upon their face, or wind trapped in their unbound hair, or smelled the forest, dark, and green, and old.
The star child was happy and it thrived most beautifully. It made friends with creatures in the meadow and in the forest, and wherever it went, it seemed as though the very rocks and roots and earth below took on a finer, softer, and more perfect radiance.
The woman too was happy beyond measure, and she too did thrive most beautifully; and so time passed, and then more time; it slipped down the stream from the mountain side; it melted like the clear, tipped icicles in spring; it rushed like autumn leaves and crackled like cozy fires in the hearth when storms came sweeping down across the meadow.
And one summer’s night it was that the woman and the star child were sitting outside in the meadow together on a blanket and they were watching falling stars when one grew closer, brighter, and it was the radiant being, and it had returned to take the star child home, for so the time had come and time was here, and now.
You and I who tell and listen to this story, we cannot know just how the woman felt when first she saw and recognised the radiant being; just what the woman thought or how her heart seemed close to bursting when the radiant being spoke; but even so, it cannot be a great surprise to learn that here and then, the woman told the radiant being that she could not honour that which once she promised and that she could not let the star child go.
The radiant being stood in silence as the woman told of her decision; it showed no sadness, showed no anger nor compassion; it just told her to consider that the star child’s journey was still young and only just begun; and that it was time now for the star child to go forward, home to where the star children go and grow when they become young star people, where they meet their own kind and take forms and shapes that never would we guess or know about.
But none of this could move the woman; she could not bear to let the star child go and so the radiant being left and for the first time since the first night she had held the star child in her arms, the woman cried, deep bitter tears of pain and fear, and fear of loss, and so the star child did become most greatly troubled and alarmed, for it loved the woman well and most in all the world and wanted nothing more than that she should be happy, as they always had been up until this night.
The woman and the star child talked all through the night and to the dawning of the day, and the star child told the woman that it did not care for stars, or anything beyond the meadow and the forest, and the mountains, and that it would most gladly stay right here for all the times from here into eternity, if only that the woman should be glad again and never more, no longer sad.
So they remained, but things were not as they had been before.
Soon after, it began to rain, much harder than it had ever rained before upon the meadow and it simply would not stop. It rained and rained and rained and after many days and nights, one night, the radiant being came back and it spoke to the woman and said, “It is raining because the world is crying. There is no star child in the heavens to watch over it, and the rain is its sorrow.”
But the woman shook her head and said, “The world does not know what sorrow is, nor how many tears I would cry if the star child was taken away from me. I will not give it up.”
The radiant being went away, and it continued to rain and rain, and no flowers blossomed in the meadow even though it was now spring, and no birds were singing anywhere.
After many days and nights, the radiant being returned again and it spoke and said, “The birds are no longer singing because their voices reach into the heavens, and there is no star child there to listen.”
But the woman shook her head and said, “The birds may be silent, but they don’t know just how I would cry to the heavens if the star child was taken from me. I will not give it up.”
The radiant being went away, and the rain continued, and there were no flowers, no birds, and finally, after many days and nights, the sun did not rise any longer in the mornings, and all was black for all the hours.
After a time now no longer counted in days and nights, for there were none, the radiant being returned to the house in the black meadow and it said, “The sun will not rise any longer, for there is no reason for it to rise and shine, as there is no star child in the heavens to see its light.”
But the woman shook her head and said, “The sun may not rise, but it doesn’t know what happens to a heart when it is broken and all the light has gone, as mine would be if the star child was taken from me. I will not give it up.”
The radiant being went away, and in the black meadow the rain continued, and all life slowly sank into cold, and into darkness, and extinguished one by one; and with every life that left, the star child became paler and less bright, and less joyous, and at first, the woman didn’t notice this but then she did, and when she did, she opened the door of the cottage to the black cold everlasting night outside, stepped out into the everlasting rain and called to the heavens, called for the radiant being, and said that she was ready at last.
The radiant being came, and the woman fell to her knees and said, “I can live with forever rain, and I can live with forever night, and I can live with nothing alive but I cannot live if that means that the star child should suffer, grow paler and disappear. I understand now the meaning of love, and of care taking. I am ready for you to take the star child.”
The star child ran to the woman and it assured her that it didn’t mind dying for her, because it loved her so very much and would do anything to make her happy; but this time the woman shook her head and said to the star child that she would be happy only if she could know that all was well for the star child; that it should grow up to become what it must and always should have been; and that she was so deeply sorry that it had taken her so long to understand that.
So the star child went to the radiant being and they stood next to each other; and it was so clear that they were both one and the same and of the same kind; and the woman bowed her head to them both.
The door opened; outside lay the black forever night and the radiant being took the star child by the hand, and they turned and walked out into the darkness. The woman scrambled to her feet and ran after them; she was just in time to see both be like lights and swoop up and away, far away into the black night; and where their light went, the clouds parted and the stars were shining brightly, and it was there their pathway and their travel took the lights they were until you could no longer be sure which star they might have been.
The woman stood and looked up into the night sky where the clouds were ever more receding; where the rain had finally stopped; and she waited for her heart to break and for her end to come; but instead, she felt as though her heart was expanding, getting bigger and bigger, wider and higher, reaching up and out and far away and when it was as big as all the worlds and all the suns and all the stars, it was then that she found the star child again, and she understood that it was never meant to be taken from her, and that it was now always with her, and not just this one star child she had been so privileged to take care of in her own life and with her own hands, but all the star children, all across the Universe.
© Silvia Hartmann 2006. All Rights Reserved In All Media.