Don’t reach for stars, reach higher

By Helena Rodriguez: Freedom Newspapers

We were not told, we were ordered, to pack light this year. And so I did an amazing act, which was nothing short of a miracle, making all my stuff fit into one huge bag.

My daughter, Laura, and I recently went once again to a church youth conference, Steubenville West, in Tucson, Ariz., with a group of 24 other people from St. Helen’s Catholic Church in Portales.

Under direct orders from Elvia Garcia to lighten our loads after last year’s overpacking near-disaster, I decided I could somehow manage in the desert without a jacket, which I had packed “just in case” last year.

Let me back up a little now. This isn’t going to be a whiney-girl column about how hard it is to pack and leave everything at home where it belongs. This is a column about stars, about falling stars, about not reaching for the stars. Yes, I said “Not reaching for the stars,” but rather, about reaching for something higher, and I will also question our use of the term “star.”

After the main night of the conference on July 14, which ended with a climaxing praise and worship service, we walked out into the scorching Arizona night. As we prepared to sit down in the grass, several of the guys excitedly yelled out, “Did you see that?”

They described the object to be like a falling star, but with a ball of fire. I didn’t see anything. Laura said she caught a glimpse out of the corner of her eye.

When I got back home, I thought this was a fitting sign for these youth who had been filled with the Holy Spirit because I popped in the conference CD, which we had been given and was moved by the lyrics to one song, “In Him” by Grae McCullough.

The song says, “I won’t reach for the stars, I’ll reach for the one who made them” and I thought, “How true! We have it backwards!”

This world tells us to reach for the stars. The military correctly tells us to “Aim high,” but for what? And to “Be all that you can be.” Notice how I italicized the word “you.” Where do others fit in? And God? That’s something I’ve been asking myself lately as I’ve re-examined the past year of my life and have come to see how I’ve mastered the role of playing the victim.

The emphasis in these empty phrases and sound bytes above is on the self. And then we wonder why many of our children today, including myself and my own generation, have become so selfish.

We’re also told “The sky is the limit” if you “Believe in yourself.” We’re told to look out for Numero Uno and take journeys of self discovery to figure out who we are and what we want in life. I think this is the cause of mid-life crisis. Looking for love in all the wrong places, inside instead of above.

All this thinking about stars got me started thinking about the term “star” or “superstar” and what it has come to mean in our world today.

Perhaps it is a fitting term after all, since there are many falling stars. But why do we put anti-role models on pedestals? Why do we call them stars and roll out the red carpet when many today lead selfish, shallow lives through a celebrityhood that often has not been achieved and used in a way that would serve others and leave this a better world when they’re gone?

And so I will no longer reach for the stars, but for the one who made them. I will tell my daughter to aim high, but for Jesus, and I will not tell her to believe in herself, but rather, to believe in a higher being, the God above who made us.

Helena Rodriguez is a columnist for Freedom Newspapers of New Mexico. She can be reached at: