Contemplating a Red Moon

Last night, 2019’s only lunar eclipse took place: a spectacular “supermoon” eclipse. We watched it from our back yard, watching the Moon slowly darken into a ruddy ball, and then, dramatically, the bright edge of ordinary Sun-lit surface burst into being and steadily reclaim it.

Lunar eclipses are really cool. Astronomical events as a whole are really cool: meteor showers, eclipses, transits, and particularly that extraordinary rarity, a prominent comet visible to the naked eye. Whenever possible, I take the opportunity to experience these phenomena, as they bring home in a visceral way that we are on a planet, in space, and there’s a lot of other stuff going on out there.

Until three years ago, when I was forced to move, I lived in a rural setting. I knew the passage of the year by the changes in the trees, the choruses of frogs and crickets and coyotes and turkeys, the ripening of the crops. Now we are in a suburban neighborhood and, though it’s pretty good in terms of light pollution and silence, it’s harder to keep hold of that knowledge that all the time, things are happening. 

That mountain may look as it did yesterday from a distance, but it isn’t. Countless changes have been made, as Life does it’s thing and all the individual creatures go about their tasks.

As a Pagan, I do my best to keep this in mind: Nature is hard at work here, every day. The great beauty of an eclipse, a sunset, the breathtaking flash of a heron overhead, the rainbow, the lightning strike: these are the “postcard moments” in a panoply of activity that carries on unseen and incessant. Nature casts weather across the land and sea, stirs dust and seeds and migrating spiders high into the air and over distances. Animals eat and mate and complete their cycles; trees and plants turn their solar collectors to the life-giving Sun, powering the whole enterprise.

It’s magnificent and ordinary. It’s Sacred.

Having a Pagan practice helps me to remember this. My daily observances at my Focus bring me into recognition of the wonders of this world, this life. I hope, as I age, that I will never forget how miraculous it is to be here, to be a part of all this.

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