December 21, 2010

upon watching the lunar eclipse...

Tonight was one of those once in a lifetime events--a total lunar eclipse on the winter solstice. I almost forgot to go out, but thanks to Facebook, I remembered in time. I was able to catch the last minutes before the moon slipped entirely into earth's shadow. The poet in me had this reaction: the moon is no longer a glowing orb, but a pearl hanging amid a sea of diamonds.

And then the shadow overtook the moon, and I was amazed at the transformation. What normally appears as a flat disk in the sky suddenly was a planet--a ball, round and small, hovering in the atmosphere, as if I could reach out and pluck it down. And I thought how often the sky appears as a two-dimensional blanket covering our three-dimensional world. But it is not--no! Outside our own little ball the universe is full of moons and suns and planets in three-dimensional glory. Solid and tangible (and sometimes not so solid, like Jupiter, and yet so real). How often do we forget this?

But that's not the end of the eclipse (though it is the point where most people retreat inside, seeking warmth and bed). The moon was still in shadow, but it would emerge. So I stayed, watching, waiting for light to return. And as the light returned to touch the moon's surface, I was reminded that the moon itself produces no light; all the light of the moon is really reflected sunlight. Oh how like the moon we should be!

I know I'm cold and stony--made up of dust. But God, creator of the universe, is the sun, with enough power and light to illuminate even my dark soul. And though sometimes a shadow will step between me and God, the shadow will not remain. When the shadow passes, when I am turned and danced away from it again, God's light will touch me once more, allowing me to shine His light down to those who are in darkness.

See--sometimes it's worth staying up late!