he flung himself loose into the stars

“The forest floor was soft and familiar underfoot; the papery, pitchy fir cones stuck to Hugh’s bare feet as they had when he was a boy in Goshen. The dense welter of trees hid the sky completely. After a long walk, he heard the voices. Will Ruffin called to him, Vinnie called to him, and he held the lantern up to find the fir trunk down which their voices fell. He climbed the tree one-handed on many rungs, emerged at a high platform, and pulled himself up.

Hugh found a dozen unrecognizable people on the platform, and heard unfamiliar voices. Cyrus Sharp was there, taller than Aunt June. Hugh held the lantern aloft and saw it illumine the stiff boughs of trees; he set the lantern down. He stripped to his union suit, and somebody handed him the heavy knotted rope. He could feel Vinnie low beside him, shivering and excited in the dark. Her wide skirts and many petticoats nudged his bare ankle once, then twice, and a pang ran through him. Before his eyes in every direction he saw nothing: no pond, no ocean, no forest, sky, nor any horizon, only unmixed blackness.

“Swing out,” the voices said in the darkness.

“Push from the platform, and when you’re all the way out, let go.”

When? he thought. Where?

The heavy rope pulled at him. He carried it to the platform edge. He hitched up on the knot and launched out. As he swung through the air, trembling, he saw the blackness give way below, like a parting of clouds, to a deep patch of stars on the ground. It was the pond, he hoped, the hole in the woods reflecting the sky. He judged the instant and let go; he flung himself loose into the stars.”

~Annie Dillard, The Living, final page.
A beautiful passage that vividly expresses how I feel about life right now. I think I’m at the “standing on a platform surrounded by unfamiliar voices and darkness” stage right now. It isn’t terrifying. Just madly disconcerting. But I know the stars are all around me: above, below, twirling in all directions. And I can’t wait to “swing out” and fling myself into them, trusting in the One who Dante passionately refers to as “the love that moves the sun and other stars.”

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