We observed Election Day, perhaps appropriately, by coming down with the flu. For a week, the kids and I hid in the parsonage with the curtains drawn as waves of election aftermath swamped and muddied our country. We huddled on the couch with blankets, thermometers, lozenges, and the television, watching an era unfold and a president rise.
But on Monday night Gary got us out. He barreled home from work and bundled us out the door, blankets, Kleenex, and sniffles. We sat in beach chairs on the lawn and watched a supermoon rise, the brightest moon since 1948.
Gary sat beside me, explaining everything from an astronomer’s perspective. Felicity danced through the grass, twirling in her bare feet, singing, and watching her moon-shadow flicker. Malachi cuddled in my lap and coughed. I watched the biggest, most brilliant moon in my lifetime shoving clouds out of its way as it climbed effortlessly to dominate the sky. Stars disappeared. Ancient constellations faded away. The heavens were washed in the pale, consuming energy of a giant, blazing moon.
One of Gary’s God-given roles is to keep my feet on the ground. He informs me that clouds were never in the way of the moon. It only appeared that way. He also tells me that there is no light at all in the moon. It doesn’t blaze. It is cold, dead, and dark. And the moon will never dominate the sky. It is a speck in the universe dwarfed by powerful stars, magnificent planets, and the mighty pull of our sun, around which everything in our solar system spins. The moon is only a mirror, reflecting up to twelve percent of the blinding energy of the sun. It can make us unable to see the stars, but it can never displace them.
It is funny how things can look so different from what they really are. The rise of the supermoon is impressive, and to many people it is a symbol of hope, but it actually has little energy or influence of its own. Even its pull on the sea is only a side effect, with a net effect of nothing. The moon is close, immediate, and striking, but it is practically powerless. Its greatest strength is its ability to trick us, to confirm the illusions we narrate ourselves.
So it is with most. None of us have quite the power we appear to, not kings, poets, politicians, or presidents. The worst most of us can do is to reify the stories that other people tell. The best any of us can do is to return light. Whether we return three percent, twelve percent, or none at all depends on our position in relation to the sun, from whence all the energy in our system derives.
We pulled up our chairs and went inside. Felicity kept dancing.
Thank you, Gary, for keeping the facts straight when all the world is spinning.
(Wait, yes, Gary tells me the world IS spinning. That’s not an illusion. What a relief 🙂 ).
Photo courtesy of Exsodus at FreeDigitalPhotos.net