Growing up in Zimbabwe, one of the enduring memories of the rural environment is the night sky on a cloudless day.
Unpolluted by any lights from electricity, the thick darkness and the eerie sounds of the night that surrounds you instil a sense of fear of what else lurks in it. This is soon assuaged by the beauty of nature’s own lights that surround you. At eye level it’s the twinkle of the multitudes of fireflies going about their business.
Look skywards on a clear day and the beauty of the heavens and the wonders of the universe unfold before your eyes. The billions of stars appear to be having a conversation with each other but among these three instantly recognisable are the ones that my grandfather would always point to- as indicators of direction and time.
The five stars of the Southern Cross appear as a giant crucifix just above the Msasa tree, I not only associated these with the mystery of my Christian faith but found them a source of comfort- I could always know where I was going. It was always a constant reminder each evening of who our saviour is. The vhenekera tsvimborume (evening star) provided early relief from evening darkness before the fireflies set about their business while the hweva (morning star) brought promise of a new dawn devouring the darkness.
During this time of Christmas when we celebrate the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ and we reflect on following the star, the focus is not just on the wise men who followed the star to find Jesus. The bigger significance is being able as a Christian family to recognise the signs and direction that Christ wants us to follow. It is all about following the direction given by the star of salvation, leading us from darkness to light, from fear and sin to salvation. We (in the words of my favourite carol) ‘follow the star of wonder and star of light’!