When you wish upon a star
Makes no difference who you are
Anything your heart desires
Will come to you
If your heart is in your dream
No request is too extreme
When you wish upon a star
As dreamers do
(Leigh Harline & Ned Washington, 1940)
I came across an interesting conversation the other on the SoulPancake (http://soulpancake.com/) that had to do with wishes. The question that was posed: Do you make wishes? On flowers? On eyelashes? On pennies in fountains? At 1111 twice a day? On chips folded in half or candles blown out? Because wishes are the secret desires of our hearts and it’s how we whisper them to the universe. What do you think? Reading the responses of folks was interesting . . . thought provoking . . . inspiring . . . and even sad. It got me thinking . . . thinking about wishing.
As kid, I wished upon the stars because I was taught to wish upon the stars by my mother. “Starlight star bright, first star I see tonight. I wish I may, I wish I might, have the wish I wish tonight.” Upon seeing the first star of the evening, making the statement, I would say my wish . . . only years later I learned that it was not a star that I was seeing but one of the other planets. Or sometimes, it was a moving airplane . . . or a satellite. It was my mother who introduced me to wish-ology, especially upon the stars. At that point in my life, Jiminy Cricket had it right.
But reading the responses from others to the question about wishing, I learned a whole bunch about other prompts for wishing. Dandelion puffs . . . make your wish while blowing the seed off the stem . . . yeah, I knew that one, but my father threatened us with death if we did that in our yard. He’d tell us to go make our wishes over in the neighbor’s yard. Pennies in a fountain . . . knew that one too . . . except I thought it made more sense to dig the pennies or other coins out of the water than to throw a penny in . . . people don’t smile to kindly upon those who do things like that. Blowing out candles on a cake . . . of course, I know that one, but now, at my age, it is more like blowing out a small bonfire. I usually wish that I can blow it out before the cake melts.
Particular times in the day, like 11:11AM or PM, I had never heard of . . . but a superstition is a superstition and, if it works, more power to you. Chips folded in half . . . shoot potato chips never lasted that long in our house. Passing under a train bridge while a train was crossing it . . . we were taught to duck our heads, not wish. Eyelashes . . . that was completely foreign to me . . . with what little hair I have, a fallen eyelash would not bring out a wish from me, but a lament that I am getting balder. Salt over the shoulder . . . I had forgotten that one, but at the same time, the wife has limited my salt intake. If I threw salt over the shoulder you would probably find me on the floor attempting to lick it up. Reading the responses, I did not realize how ignorant I was about the art of making wishes.
To answer the question that is posed—do you wish?—I would have to say, no. Despite having been trained to wish upon the stars, I do not wish upon the stars . . . or flowers, eyelashes, pennies in fountains, at numbered sequences, dandelion puffs, or even birthday candles. I haven’t done any sort of wishing like that for a long, long time . . . and, this post made me sad to think that I had lost the hope of wishing in my life. But, then I read one response that made me see things a little differently: “ No, but I pray.”
I pray . . . I pray every day. In defining wishes, SoulPancake, wrote: “Because wishes are the secret desires of our hearts and it's how we whisper them to the universe.” Sounds a lot like prayer to me . . . I guess that as I have gotten older I have given up those childish practices for a more mature understanding . . . actually; I just changed the name from wishes to prayer. Haven’t we all?
Prayer is whispering . . . sometimes shouting . . . our hopes, dreams, desires, concerns . . . the things that are written upon our hearts . . . to a higher power . . . to God. Prayer, like a wish, is very personal and private, for the most part. Prayer is the more adult version of wishing . . . sort of. Sort of, because prayer is more than lifting up a wish list . . . it is listening . . . it is dialoguing . . . it is discerning . . . and, it is responding. At least it should be, but my experience over the years tells me that the majority of prayers are more like wishes . . . and, that is a start.
I think that we need both . . . wishing and praying . . . whispering our heart’s desires to the universe or God or whatever it is that gets a person through the night. I think we need them because we all need hope . . . all need something to set our sight on . . . something to keep us going. Prayer and wishes can do that for us. And, because I think this, I found it sad when several of the responders to the question replied that they did not believe in wishes or that they had given all of that up a long time ago. As one person wrote: “I quit wishing a long time ago. Kinda sad.”
Yeah, it is. We all need hope. We all need to be able to express that hope in whatever form it takes . . . a wish upon a star . . . a prayer from bended knee, we need to be able to whisper our heart’s desire so that someone or something—bigger than us—can hear it. So that we can hear it. We’ve got to have hope.
Though I gave up wishing a long time ago, replaced it with prayer, it might be time to pick up the practice once again. I have an eleven month old granddaughter who needs to learn about hope so that it will always be a part of her life and who she is as an individual. She needs to learn about wishing upon the stars . . . about the wish of blown out birthday candles . . . dandelion puffs (only in the neighbor’s yard) . . . and, even fallen eyelashes. These are the prompts of simple prayer . . . of sharing the heart’s desires with the Other. I’m ready to teach her . . . besides, who doesn’t love Jiminy Cricket singing When You Wish Upon a Star? That is my wish and the prayer I offer . . . let us offer our hope.