Beware those things by which, those people by whom you are enchanted. As all readers of fairy tales know, enchantments are temporary.
I have been enchanted by moons — full moons, crescent moons, harvest moons, eclipsed moons — for years. I have religiously, as in, with awe and in reverence, stood outside in cold that charged my toes like electrical current, in wind that deafened me to my own thoughts, in leftover heat that pasted my shirt to my chest, to look at moons the size of dimes and silver dollars, the color of ice and tangerines. I have laughed at, cried over, wondered at, marveled over the magic of gravity and seasons and the tides.
Over the last few months, though, the moon has disappointed me. Almost without fail, the full ones have been draped in heavy mist or completely obscured by clouds. The shiny crescent ones that always before have invited me to reach up, grab hold and swing like a first-grader on a jungle gym have been dull and dangerously brittle, clearly not strong enough to hold the weight of my imagination. Even the one that was supposed to point me to the comet Panstarrs last month failed. I stood in the side yard and stared and stared and stared without ever getting sight of what it seemed that everyone else was so easily observing.
So, last week, on the night when the full moon was hovering over Sandhill, I deliberately stayed indoors. Took a stand. Made a statement. Protected myself against what I was certain would be another disappointing effort at channeling some of the magic of the sky into me.
I have tried this before — not ignoring the moon, but protecting myself from disappointment. For years I proudly proclaimed that I was a vicarious learner, that I could watch other people and learn from their mistakes without the necessity of making them myself. I avoided risk at all cost, mistakenly thinking that the cost was insulation when, in fact, it was numbness. I took stands and made statements that did nothing but deprive me of the opportunity for joy.
I heard the other day that a better translation of the New Testament Scriptures generally called the Beatitudes would read, rather than “Blessed are …”, “You are in the right place when …” You are in the right place when you are meek and merciful, when you seek righteousness and make peace; when you are in a place of engagement. A place, I suspect, where it doesn’t matter whether you can actually see the moon, but only that you are looking at where it is supposed to be.
The next morning, I walked outside and was startled to see the moon, absolutely full, a huge white polka dot pasted over the western horizon. It was floating in a band of pale pink sky over a field of planted pines and a fencerow of scrub oaks. I stopped to stare. And in the stare was my apology.
She responded by remaining very still, hovering over her spinning earth and covering me once again with enchantment.