A Fistful of Stars

by Gail Collins-Ranadive & Milt Hetrick

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Imprint: Little Bound Books(Essay Series) | Trade Paperback | 4 x 6 | 80pgs


We are made up of star stuff! This elegant idea became tangibly real when the liberal clergy author was handed a cottonwood twig with a tiny star hiding inside.  Gathering up fists full of these star sticks, and in collaboration with her ‘rocket scientist’ partner, she set out to reframe the human experience within its cosmic context. Here she shows how living in communion with the cosmos can affect the way we live in community, understand ourselves, and connect with the Source of all Becoming.  In the addendum, she invites readers to add to the evolving new cosmic narrative of living ‘from ashes to ashes, dust to dust, star stuff to star stuff.’


Early Praise for A Fistful of Stars

“The Great Story—humanity’s first and only globally produced, evidence-based Creation myth—deserves multiple tellings from multiple angles. Gail Collins-Ranadive draws attention to the wondrous fact that, in the words of Carl Sagan and Neil deGrasse Tyson, ‘We are star-stuff pondering the stars.’ In crazy and contracting times it’s more important than ever to recall the Big Picture and know that the Cosmos is our larger body. These essays are like a hand-drawn map home to our true Self.”

–Rev. Michael Dowd, author of Thank God for Evolution

“Collins-Ranadive writes with a sensitivity and urgency that this current moment requires. For to deal with such challenges as climate change requires more than mere technological solutions, but also a recognition of who we truly are—stars. Such a re-membering, she intimates, will also enrich our spiritual lives and bring forth more vibrant and sustainable communities.”

–Theodore Richards, author of Cosmosophia

“A Fistful of Stars: Communing with the Cosmos is a beautifully crafted exploration of our place in the universe.  It reads like poetry in prose form.  A reader could sit down and finish the entire book in an hour or two, or return to it again and again and again and find new wisdom upon each re-reading.  The narrative shifts effortlessly between the personal and the cosmological, the individual and the universal, reflecting the life experiences of the authors as well as the writing and thinking of some of the great minds of our times. Collins-Ranadive captures the simplicity as well as the complexity of the universe and we humans within it.  Any person who experienced the 2017 solar eclipse or who has ever gazed at the stars and wondered about the cosmos will find meaning in these reflections.”

–Hilary Morland, PhD, Adjunct Faculty, Anthropology, Metropolitan State University and Climate Reality Leader 

“As I read this fine little book (and it is indeed little–measuring 4“ X 6” and only 48 pages long plus a delightful addendum), I kept thinking of all the people I want to give it to. One is a high school senior (to be sure a very intelligent and introspective high school senior); one is a college junior thinking of changing his major who would be inspired by this book; and one is a 60-something now re-orienting her life after recently rejecting Catholicism because of it’s continuing disrespect of women. What these people have in common is transition, and the author herself seems to want to especially help those in transition, “We know it is time (to see the transcendent in the ordinary) when the life we’ve constructed begins to fall apart . . . “ My own experience is that it is always time to see the transcendent in the ordinary, and even those not in transition will profit from the rethinking this book stimulates. Indeed, I am quite certain I’ll buy a copy for an all-too-staid friend who has a love-hate relationship with a huge cottonwood tree in his own yard. I may even give a copy to a climate-denier I know who doesn’t even realize we all are in a transition.”

–Michael Cavanaugh is a founder of the Religious Naturalist Association and past president of IRAS, The Institute on Religion in an Age of Science, author of Biotheology: A New Synthesis of Science & Religion

A Fistful of Stars begins and ends with a question: ‘May I show you something?’ With the snapping of a cottonwood twig, Collins-Ranadive shows us how close the universe really is. She reminds us that the heavy elements of our planet and ourselves originate from billions of years of supernovae, matter blown across the galaxy, recycled and reborn.  As we look up into the night sky at our origins, the vastness of space and the questions of its beginning, end, and meaning easily overwhelms us so that it’s easier to ignore its mysteries and grandeur than trace our own story of how we came to be or why it matters.  This sense of insignificance combined with our own daily struggles (mundane or otherwise) manifests closer to home where we no longer ask why our own planet matters—as if somehow surviving tomorrow as a species is less important than just one person getting through the day.

Collins-Ranadive shares her own experiences where the universe reminded and continues to remind her—and us—that while it can be overwhelming, it can also be overwhelmingly wonderful, relevant, even personal.  Our recognizing the science leading up to the human species and appreciating the beauty that science adds far beyond the aesthetic may be what makes us uniquely human.

Want to give it a try? In case we missed the first several times the universe asked for some attention, Collins-Ranadive gives us some simple ways to invite it back into our lives for a deeper conversation.  At the end of the exercises, she hopes you see that between the light and the shadows of both spacetime and the human condition, is you.”

–Dana Collins—Citizen of the Universe, imbued with all the rights and responsibilities thereof, President, national computer services company

Gail Collins-Ranadive

Gail Collins-Ranadive


Gail Collins-Ranadive, MA, MFA, MDiv, is a retired Unitarian Universalist minister, a former nurse, a licensed private pilot, and a workshop facilitator. Author of seven non-fiction books, including two for children and two Homebound titles, she writes the environmental column for The Wayfarer. An Easterner by birth and a Westerner in spirit, she and her partner winter at her home in Las Vegas and summer at his in Denver. Gail is the mother of two and the grandmother of five. Visit her at www.gailcollinsranadive.com