Monday's Theme: Relying on the Moon
This time of the fall is a window into some of what nature has to teach us about diminishment. We see it as the trees grow barer and barer. We feel it in our bones as the cold enwraps us when we spend any time outside. And now as COVID is surging our sense of dread and diminishment feel like it is coming from the inside out. Fear can do that. It can shift our spirits. It can unsettle us. Fear can diminish what light we feel is holding us, surrounding us. Fear can sap our energy, our kindnesses, our sensibilities. It’s as important as it’s ever been that we not let fear keep us from living, not keep us from learning more from nature and one another.
Tonight, as we look out at the moon even though it appears to be decreasing in size, that’s not what is really happening. It’s not that the moon’s size is changing, instead it is only doing what it’s supposed to do. The moon is following its orbit. As the earth and sun and moon continue making their way, the rotation causes a shadow which slowly covers more and more of the moon’s surface, making it appear to decrease in size. This shadow is growing across the moon’s surface, but the moon at its core remains the same. It’s not the moon that is decreasing, but what we are able to see is less. Maybe this is just a reminder to believe even when we cannot see. I don’t mean to sound like Mary Poppins (God bless her), but the truth is the truth. The moon remains intact. With time we will see more of the moon’s surface. With time the light will show us more. It wasn’t that long ago that we were able to see in the dark. Remember? It was just a week ago. Part of nature’s lesson, part of journeying through Advent is for us to believe that we will see more light returning.
In my work at Egleston, I encounter a great variety of souls every day. I try to pay attention to the folks I encounter. It’s very much an intergenerational community. It’s a children’s hospital, so I encounter the gambit in ablenesses and alertnesses everyday with the kids. Most (certainly not all) of the nurses are in their mid 20’s to early 30’s. Then there are the parents and grandparents and older staff. Throughout this pandemic, I’ve been watching and listening out for how the nurses are coping (this is probably because my boys are nearing the same age). I am aware of a lot of sighing. I am aware of louder laughter and more tears throughout the day. I am aware of great kindnesses being extended. As I watch I see that like the ebbing and flowing of the tides, like the moon’s shifting in shapes and sizes, the emotions at the nurses’ station mirrors those peaks and valleys. There is more and less. There is holding on and letting go. As I am working at the hospital, I am trusting that as COVID is surging, as these days are growing darker, shifts will come. I am doing my best to believe that this isn’t all there is, that it isn’t all that will be.
On this day of the Waning Moon, I think that many of us are coming to understand diminishment in new ways. This COVID season has cost us all a great deal. It has had the power to affect every human on the planet. Loved ones, illnesses, job and money and possibly housing losses. We are living out this night’s sighting of diminishment. It is the time in the cycle of the moon that tomorrow night’s moon will be even less. And yet…and yet…we continue. Left foot, right foot. The story that has held me my whole life tells me, that even as the nights grow darker, especially as the night’s grow darker, God is with us. Here in our midst. God is as close as our next breath.
"Time is different here," I heard my Mom's voice say a couple months after her death. Journeying through these Covid-19 days, remind me of the gift of those words. You are invited companion me on this 2020 Advent journey to Bethlehem, as we seek Emmanuel, God who promises always to be with us.