Star light, star bright, first star I see tonight. I wish I may, I wish I might, have the wish I wish tonight. For as long as I can remember, I’ve made a wish on the first star I see at night. This week, I will make a wish for a ten-year-old boy who lives in a small village in Uganda.
When I was a child, my wishes were those of a child. As I got older, they became less self-centered and foolish. Eventually, most of my wishes turned to prayers for the health and happiness of the people I love. After my children went out on their own, I found it comforting to know they might look up in the sky and wish upon the very same star as I.
Many years ago, my husband and I began sponsoring a little boy named Pascal through Compassion International, a humanitarian aid organization. I love knowing he, too, is under the same blanket of stars.
Pascal lives with his brothers, sisters, and mother, who has been ill for some time. His home has been described as a small shelter cobbled together with discarded materials. Fortunately, Pascal and many of the children in his village are able to attend a church-sponsored school.
I don’t know if Pascal understands he lives in poverty. If so, his smiling school photos and drawings of himself playing soccer, laughing with friends, and helping his mother belie the fact. When I find myself wishing for material things or for even more ease in my life, I think of Pascal and the three billion people on our planet who live in poverty.
There’s a quote I turn to when my life seems inadequate, when I let advertisements, HGTV, and social media make me feel small and envious. Rainer Maria Rilke wrote, “If your daily life seems poor, do not blame it; blame yourself. Tell yourself that you are not poet enough to call forth its riches. For to the creator, there is no poverty and no poor indifferent place.”
Rilke’s words shame me. I keep the quote close at hand, just in case I need to snap out of it.
I sent a birthday card to Pascal, which an interpreter will help him read. I asked him to look up at the night sky. “Remember that you and I are on the same planet, under the same sky, looking up at the same stars,” I wrote. “I am making a special wish upon one of those stars for your birthday and always.”
Star light, star bright, first star I see tonight. I wish I may, I wish I might, have the wish I wish tonight.
Please Note: About a year after I wrote this essay, we received a letter that Pascal’s mother passed away, and his guardian chose to remove Pascal from the Compassion project. Mike and I could no longer sponsor him. I called Compassion International in Colorado and was told this is a common problem with sponsored children. One of the most important feature of child sponsorship programs is tracking children so that they are not easily sold into slavery or recruited into rebellion armies. I was allowed to write Pascal a final letter and risked sending him our address and phone number, hoping he might contact us on his own at some point. We have not heard from him yet, but I pray he knows I will look up at our same stars this week and make a birthday wish for him. §