Archive for Thursday, January 6, 2011

Lunar eclipse a reminder of universe’s ‘bigger story’

January 6, 2011

The full moon rode high in the winter sky and seemed a tiny dot in far away sky. I thought about how far away the moon looked as I watched the moon fade behind the earth’s orb as we passed between the sun and the moon.

The moon looked like a silver button slipping through the buttonhole of a long-sleeve, blue shirt, easing its way through slowly. The sky around the moon was dusky and filled with gauzy clouds, giving the moon an appearance of slow motion dancing.

The night was late, or the morning early, depending on your frame of reference, as the moon slipped through its buttonhole. The treetops through which I watched the eclipse moved ever so slightly in the breezes; I was reminded of a Japanese watercolor — fine and delicate.

Though I knew it was the earth that moved between the sun and moon, it felt as though the moon was in slow motion. As it passed through darkness into an ever-increasing brightness, I could see a double-image earth against moon. I thought how the mystics of old must have puzzled over the sight of the disappearing and reappearing moon, unaware it was they who were in motion.

I thought about our earth’s motion in the night sky; how this huge, unfathomable world is such a small dot in the heavens; how those of us spread all over its surface are bound so close together in the overall realm of the universe.

I stood in the second story window of the old house and looked about the town: Dozens of street lights burning orange, the lights of a Christmas tree glowing in the window of nearby home, the moon growing from a sliver of crescent into a brightly burning orb.

I looked across housetops, expected to see someone with a telescope on a roof watching the moon. There was no one on a rooftop, none in the streets and no one in a lawn chair wrapped in a blanket watching the eclipse.

It seemed to me that I was the only one awake watching the moon in its journey out of darkness into light. There was a stillness in the night rarely heard in town: no cars moving, no dogs barking; a single porch light.

In the distance, a train wailed its way west, blowing its whistle as it coursed along its track. Some say the train whistle is a mournful sound as it cuts the night sky.

The train on the track, as the earth in its orbit, and the moon on its journey are simply pieces of a larger puzzle; a bigger story, unfolding even as we watch and wait. On this night, it is oh so mysterious, and oh so lovely.

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