The Moon, the Stars, & All that Love!

(October 13, 1997)

The stars awaken a certain reverence, becauseThough always thought present, they are inaccessible;But all natural objects make a kindred impression,When the mind is open to their influence.— Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Flora fell asleep that night thanking God for the wonderful day He had given her. She wondered if Paolo had been the answer to her morning prayer. Flora wondered if she had followed the star that fell into her soul, the one from Gulliver, and if it had brought her to Paolo.” – from If Nothing Happens in the Sky by Terry Stellini

      Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star
      Fly Me to the Moon
      Moonlight Becomes You So
      Stella by Starlight
      Moon Over Miama
      Moonlight Serenade
      That Old Devil Moon
      Moonlight in Vermont
      Written In the Stars
      I Wished on the Moon
      Starry, Starry Night
      When You Wish Upon a Star
      Catch a Falling Star & Put it in Your Pocket

aaahhhh. . . are we open to their influence?

I think the things in the sky have influenced more poets, authors, artists and songwriters than any other objects in the world. I think the moon and the stars were created simply to inspire! Ralph Waldo Emerson’s words, “open to their influence”, immediately inspired my heart the afternoon I accidentally stumbled across them while gathering research for my book. I was into the fourth chapter when I came across Emerson’s quotation about the stars and all natural objects. That night with his words in my heart and the stars in the sky, my story about Flora really came to be. On that night, under the clear heavens with a jillion stars glistening, I chose the title for my first book, If Nothing Happens In the Sky.

It seems I’ve always been influenced by the things in the sky. The sun and moon, the stars, the clouds have always affected me. For example, Mama told me that I was born the night before the full moon, and one minute before a beautiful pink sunrise at 4:44am. My father used to call me Tear a Star From Out the Sky (some neat nickname)! I got married five weeks after our astronauts landed on the moon. There was the ten second falling star at the family cottage the summer I began writing and a full moon last Christmas Eve when we celebrated the success of my second book, A Full Moon on Christmas Eve. This Spring, the Hale-Bopp comet followed me all the way home from Florida while giving me much inspiration for my third book, While the Moon Looked Up to Heaven. In their own natural way, the things in the sky have always explained to me the simple truths about life here on earth. . .about the love that’s here in my heart. Like the dialogue in If Nothing Happens In the Sky between Flora and Paolo, about the stars. . . .

“Flora, if the sky is our soul turned inside out, what are the stars?” Paolo was completely enjoying their conversation.

“The stars,” Flora said confidently, “they are all the lucky souls who lived and loved. . .and their brightness is what they leave behind for us. Can you imagine a sky without them? What would we do without them? They dot the grand reflection of our soul. . . they give us a glimpse of eternal hope. . . they make us see that nothing that ever lives and loves ever dies.”

My father held the finished copy of If Nothing Happens In the Sky very proudly. With squinting eyes, he quickly leafed through the three hundred and sixty-nine pages more amazed at the amount of words than the content. Then, he closed my book and looked at the cover while smiling ear to ear and praising my tenacity.

“You did it, Terry. I don’t even have to read it to tell you that it’s good, I know it’s good.” My father handed me the book and told me that he was going to read it as soon as he picked up a new pair of reading glasses from the drugstore. How honored I was to have my book in my father’s wonderful hands. He didn’t have to read my book, it was a love story, and Daddy already knew everything there was to know about love. I mean, he and Mama taught me and my two sisters and four brothers everything we needed to know about that excellent subject. (On the subject of subjects, let me wander from this one for a minute.)

My father never did get the chance to read my book. He passed away before he got his new glasses. His death snuck up on me and snatched a person from my life who I admired, respected and loved with all of my heart. Death be not proud.

Months passed – I hadn’t even scribbled one word down on paper except for Dad’s obituary which the family left up to me. My heart remained numb, and despite the old moon and the stars that had always inspired me, I couldn’t, or maybe I wouldn’t allow myself to be motivated.

Finally, in the Fall, I began working on a story I had begun a year before. I was trying to build a story around a poem I had written after one of my morning walks that past December. I had been listening to Frank Sinatra’s Duets CD. The tune Mack the Knife, sung with Jimmy Buffet, blew my mind one afternoon as Frank belted out the lyrics, “And that big fat band jumping behind me!” Big, fat band! Immediately I thought of Dad. I got his message via Sinatra/Buffet! “Do the things you gotta do…!” My father’s passing had inspired a new path for Rena’s conflict. (Have I really gotten off the subject here?)

Rena started out as the typical spinster type noticing a few wrinkles, a few extra pounds, and a couple of decades that seemed to have simply whizzed by her and her busy career. But now her beautiful father had passed away jarring her world and then settling in her heart like a ton of bricks!

Immediately, I sent Rena off to Italy where there is a cure for everything and where she’d hopefully bump into Mr. Right and her guilty conscience. With the help of Sinatra music and a couple of miracles, I knew Rena’s heart and soul would find peace. . .and love!

I remember looking out from my bedroom window one night after putting a few hours into A Full Moon on Christmas Eve and seeing a bright setting crescent moon. It had the silliest expression on its face. Half whimsical and half real and telling me that everything is good.

I felt Dad’s presence in the heavens above me that night. . .the moon and the stars seemed even more precious. The moon was giggling in the sky and Daddy was laughing in my heart. Through the whole process, I kept looking into the sky for dialogue and listening to my heart that had been filled with the wisdom from a thousand twinkling stars. That night I laughed at the dialogue in the scene from chapter five where Lucia blurts out Zia Antonia’s philosophy on the clouds to Rena:

“Clouds are full of more than rain,” Lucia said adamantly. “Today Vito’s soup is making its way into the air. . .my bread will be rising in the bowl and up to the heavens…but one day when the clouds in the sky are tinted wiith a celery green and yeasty grey, I’ll know that Vito’s soup and my bread reached their destiny.” Lucia winked at Rena and then continued.

“The clouds are full of everything that comes from us, our breath, which is really a part of our soul – not just rain in the clouds, not just snow – our life, our lives fill up the clouds, that’s what Zia Antonia always says, and I believe her. Some of the other pazzo things she’s done or claims to have done don’t bother me one way or the other, but what she says about the clouds, that always makes sense to me.” Lucia began measuring the wheat flour for her dinner rolls.

Our life, our lives fill up the clouds. . . . (See, I really didn’t get that much off the subject of things in the sky that inspire. . . so hang in there and allow me to share one more tidbit of interest.)

My father had a band in high school (and all through his life)and they would practice on my grandparents front porch. One hot summer night, the whole neighborhood sat on their porches to cool down with the refreshing breeze, to relax from a hard days work. Daddy and the guys practiced their new Glenn Miller arrangement of Moonlight Serenade. (That song ended up being Dad’s theme song for his band.)

One of his next-door neighbors yelled over to the young men wanting to know the name of the band. “Oh, our name,” Daddy thought as he and the fellas realized they had forgotten a tiny detail regarding their new venture into the world of entertainment. So, later that evening, Uncle Pete, who was my father’s brother and the piano player of the group, looked up into the sky and commented on all the stars. My father immediately came up with the idea Babe Balone & the Stardusters – Dad was a true romantic!

I remember telling my father how happy I was to have heard his story about naming the band and how grateful I was that he didn’t forget it after all the years that had passed. “You don’t forget little things like that, Terry. . . little things mean alot. . . I’ll never forget that starry night on Glenwood in Detroit.” Thanks to Dad, neither will I.

When I consider how the stars circle around and appear year by year, when I look at the stars that shine in the spring, the morning star and the north star, each one alloted a different task and service to perform, then, although I do not understand them, I realize that you, God, are in them.

This quotation from Hillary of Poiters inspired my third story, While the Moon Looked Up to Heaven. I was flipping the pages of my daily calendar when her words melted my heart. I was anxious for springtime things like bright morning stars and swinging on the frontyard swing. I was looking forward to listening to the frogs one mild night while waiting for the April moon to rise. The verse also made me contemplate the repetition of life and the ironic freshness of its repeated ordered cycle.

Dad is in the heavens now twinkling, I’m sure. And, I agree with Flora’s statement to Paolo about the stars and how they make us see that nothing that ever lives and loves ever dies. They are up there for us. Remnants of the living soul that will remind us in their brightness to love. . . because, simply put, that’s why we were created!

The heavens reflect the love from mankind’s past, present and their future. Our spirits are naturally navigated toward kindred objects. We are drawn to the heavens like bees to honey. That attraction will always inspire and make us open our eyes and our hearts to see the really important things in life. . .and if we are lucky, to sometimes even write a romantic story about one, or maybe even two of them!

“I think, Zio Angelo, that it is ironic and typical how you still blame God for my blindness and Zio Alfredo’s death. . . maybe you are the blind one in this family.” Sister Paolina paused for a moment. Her expression changed as soon as her last statement replayed in her heart. She reached out for Angelo’s hand and found it.

“The moon tonight is fitting and special, Zio, it is another gift from God Who sees everything and knows what all of us need. . . and stasera, tonight, God gives you the moon, Zio, whether you want it or not.” – from While the Moon Looked Up to Heaven

Confession: I never could have written about inspiration and not include my greatest imspiration – my father. He held my first book in his hands and smiled like he knew every word I had written inside.

Maybe he did know. . . maybe one night on his Glenwood porch with the band rehearsing I Know Why, he heard the stars yelling in their brightness Emerson’s words:

“If the stars should appear one night in a thousand years, how would men believe and adore. . . but every night come out these envoys of beauty and light the universe with their admonishing smile.”

Terry Stellini

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While the Moon Looked Up to Heaven will be available at bookstores on the 28th of October. The book’s publisher is Cielo Publishing. Please e-mail Terry if you are interested in more information on any of her three books.

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