Hi Y'all, Welcome to the Shiny Side Up! A journal of infectious inspiration that will lift you up, make you smile and leave you stronger!
I pray that all of you are staying strong and well through these times.
I also hope that you are finding creative ways
to stay connected with friends and loved ones.
I'm glad you are part of my family.
We are stronger together!
Sooooo . . . during this time of sheltering in place . . . I'm thinking I could use a little Christmas.
Good! That’s why I am publishing my newest book, MIRACLE ON 31st STREET, on May 3rd! It’s a collection of holiday meditations intended as evergreen inspiration -- inspirations to help you navigate stress and go from Grinch to gratitude! I was planning on publishing it later this year, but given our levels of anxiety, and upheaval, I think we need it NOW!
A percentage of the book's first month’s proceeds will go to
No Kid Hungry helping kids get food during school closures and all the year-long.
As my gift to you, my Shiny Side Up readers get a VIP sneak preview of the book! For the next four weeks, I will be sharing sample chapters with each post. This is the third shared chapter. I hope you enjoy it!
Stay well my friends, xo Susan
A Star is Born
“When we contemplate the whole globe as one great dewdrop, striped and dotted with continents and islands, flying through space with other stars all singing and shining together as one, the whole universe appears as an infinite storm of beauty.” —John Muir
Given the title of this piece, I’d like to qualify something upfront: I am not trying to do a mash-up of the movie A Star is Born and Christmas. That would be too creepy, especially with the 1976 version. Barbara Streisand as Mary? Kris Kristofferson as Joseph? And the baby Jesus played by a young Gary Busey? That’s just wrong.
No, I’m talking about real stars, the kind that shine from the sky, not the stage.
For thousands of years, humanity has been drawn to the light of the stars. We watch the constellations, track the paths of the planets, and study the cycle of the sun, all in an attempt to understand the great mysteries of life. NASA does it, Galileo did it, and 2000 years ago, the three Wise Men did it. They tracked the stars to find the Messiah.
But the draw of the heavens for us is more than simple imagination or exploration. It is organic, even hereditary. The stars are our old ones, our wise ones, for we as human beings carry their genetic imprint. Joni Mitchell sang the famous lyrics “we are stardust,” and as it turns out, she’s right.
Our human bodies are made of remnants of stars and massive explosions in the galaxies. Carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, iron, and sulfur—most of the materials that we’re made of—come out of the star dust kicked off by those explosions and scattered across the universe. As Astrophysicist Karel Schrijver explained in
National Geographic, “We have stuff in us as old as the universe.”
In fact, there is a striking parallel between the life cycle of a star and the spiritual life cycle of human beings. (Brace yourself—a liberal arts major is about to explain physics . . .)
There are basically two stages to the life of a star. The first stage is when a star is born. As gravity begins to pull gases towards a center core, the temperature begins to rise, and eventually, the density of the gases causes a nuclear reaction. It’s then that the star begins to shine, drawing energy toward the light, to its core, then radiating that light back out into the galaxy.
This can go on for billions of years until we come to the second stage, when the star’s center can no longer hold. Because the star has too little fuel left to maintain its core temperature, its light goes out and it collapses under its own weight, drawing everything around it into a dark abyss.
Tell me that doesn’t sound familiar. Sometimes we draw our energy toward the light and reflect its warmth to all around us. Other times, we have lost all fuel; our light goes out and we collapse, emotionally or otherwise, into a dark abyss.
These days, it’s easy to find ourselves in that abyss. Between crazy schedules, job stress, money worries, health issues, concerns for our children, and worries for our world, it’s easy to find ourselves drawn to the darkness. And like the stars, the only thing between a heart that draws in the light and a heart that collapses into a black hole is a strong center that can hold.
Sadly, we tend to put all kinds of crazy things at our center that weaken our core, such as ego, anger, resentment, and fear. We lean on titles, bank accounts, status, and stuff. We look to other people—to our spouses, partners, friends, and family—to fill our core.
Inevitably, there comes a time when these things can’t hold anymore. The job won’t last forever. The money gets spent. Botox lasts for only three months (or so I’ve heard). Like a dying star, we begin to collapse into the darkness when our center can’t hold, and the light goes out.
We must find a center that will hold, and that center is God. We need look no further than the scriptures for confirmation. Take, for example, Isaiah 40:31:“But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles.”
What do you have at the center of your life?
Is it strong enough to hold you through the good times and the bad?
If your center is not holding, if your light is starting to go out, walk outside this evening. Find a place where you can look up into the heavens and see the stars. Remember how they transform chaos and turmoil into light. Remember how their warmth and power radiate far out into the universe. And most importantly, remember that it was a star that pulled the Wise Men towards the true light of world.
We have the power to shine as brightly as those stars. All we have to do is find a center that will hold. All we have to do is find the place in our hearts where a star is born.