When it is dark enough, you can see the stars.
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
Tonight, will be December’s New Moon. The Hebrews observed the new moon as the beginning. This bare-light marked the first day of the month, the first day of travel. For centuries it has been our time to begin again. For centuries it has been our time to step into what is coming next.
New moons are wisps of light. I remember when my dear friend, Susie was taking pictures of each cycle of the moon for our shared book, Relying on the Moon. I (naively) kept asking her to “get a good picture of the new moon.” Well, it turns out that that was a difficult ask. Why? It’s difficult you see (silly Lesley), because there’s hardly any moon there. It’s just started, just born almost and there’s not yet a great deal of there there. Susie, good friend that she is would keep at it and took some pretty great shots...but her realization of such a challenge was an important lesson: Often when life is starting, when practices are new, when shifts happen and we suddenly see something old in a new way – there are the tiniest of visible changes. It’s not a drum roll, the curtains part and - - ta-da - - we are changed. It’s infinitesimal. It’s easily passed over. It’s often not even seen.
Changes come in our season of grieving. So often they are like the sighting of a new moon. You think you know it, feel it, you possibly can even see it, but it’s so hard to capture. It’s so hard to show someone else. But somewhere, deep in our heart of hearts we begin to acknowledge a change. Because it is so small and difficult to demonstrate or capture, we are served well by grace.
Grace and mercy are grief’s most kind companions. Grace allows us to be stuck and lost and not-ourselves. Grace surprises us with joy or beauty or a fresh baked cookie. Grace forgives and restores us time and time and time again. Mercy allows us to not do grief well. Somehow many of us feel that grief can be ordered, and rules are there to be followed, boxes there to be checked. For those of us who have lived our grief, we know better. C.S Lewis spoke it well calling his lovely book A Grief Observed. Not ordered or completed. Mercy offers daily, hourly forgiveness.
So, what is beginning in you on this day of a new moon? What are you seeing that none of us can yet make out? What has shifted in you that might be your first steps on this pilgrimage toward healing?
And we know that answers to any questions don’t tell us nearly all of what a question may hold. They just help us focus a bit and look at what is there.
New moons don’t provide hardly any light at all. Emerson’s quote reminds us of the gift of seeing something new when we are working really hard at seeing something else. Emerson’s quote can remind us that there’s more there there. Always has been, always will be.
Working in Family Experience at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, Lesley is an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ. She and her partner, Linda Ellis are raising their two sons, Brogan (now a freshman at Guilford College) and Sam at sophomore at DHS in Decatur, GA.