You wouldn’t believe the stars

By Amanda Cleary Eastep

“You wouldn’t believe the stars.”

My daughter tells me this in one of her voice messages from the refugee camp in north Africa.

She and her friend had dragged their bedding out onto the desert sand, staying up until 2 a.m. as if this was some junior high sleepover, chatting and “wow”ing and awestruck.


We live 30 minutes south of Chicago, the nightlight of the suburbs. Except instead of providing us comfort, it simply adds to the light pollution that washes out the starry sky.

But in the country on a black night, I have looked up, awestruck, like a child comprehending for the first time that the face of her mother is connected to the hand that is always holding hers.

You wouldn’t believe the stars.

I haven’t been able to get those words out of my head this week.

I keep wondering what really important and beautiful things we aren’t seeing because of the “light pollution” in our lives…because of the worry or busy-ness or overabundance of crap in our closets.


Last week, my daughter called direct for the first time in weeks. Her host “mother” wanted to talk, as well, and I was glad to put aside my pressing office tasks to hear her piece together English words to ask, “How-is-your-family?”

I piece things together, too, as I try to understand these people and my daughter’s experience based on the snippets of information she reports when she is able to catch a wi-fi signal.

Sand like silken dust

The importance of tea

A small black scorpion

Canned peaches

No running water

112-degree heat

The sandbag school they are building

Hospitable exiles without a home

Beautiful and terrible pinpricks of light.

I imagine this woman is not so far removed from the atrocities that brought her family, and hundreds like hers, to this desert “refuge” a few decades ago. Even the youngest children have probably seen their parents and grandparents weep over painful memories still bright as those of last week’s birthdays and weddings.


God once made a covenant with a man in the desert.

“I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky.”

How ridiculous that must have sounded to Abraham as he gazed up that night and laughed. But God still promised kings of peoples would come from Abraham and his wife.

Doubt, like worry, busy-ness, and the rest, can become our light pollution.

These things can even become our nightlights, distracting us from all that God glitter spread over our heads with a wide and generous hand.

We bask comfortably in the glow instead of believing awestruck in the darkness.

You wouldn’t believe the stars.

But do we even see them?

5 thoughts on “You wouldn’t believe the stars

  1. came from emily’s site too..
    beautiful post.
    i have a feeling “you wouldn’t believe the stars”
    are words that are going to ring over in my mind next time i look up at night. 🙂
    oh, for the eyes to see who He truly is!


    1. Thanks to you, too, for coming on over for a visit! I appreciate your reading and commenting. I loved how the phrase had a double meaning, not believing how amazing the stars are and not believing in the promise of that lies behind them.


  2. hopping over here from emilyfreman’s place, hello!

    “we bask comfortably in the glow instead of believing awestruck in the darkness.” what profound truth! i will be meditating on that for some time, i’m sure.


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