I remember looking at the moon once, years ago. It was lustered a very bright orange and slowly descending to Earth’s horizon where it appeared positively enormous. I was awestruck. Eyes full, roving from edge to crater to edge, not wishing to blink, I drank in the moon to stupefaction and had a very religious experience; not the first, but memorable all the same. I thought how certain God must exist in that moment; how he knew of the tides’ pull, the nature of gravity, and the wonder I felt. With such care he must have crafted the moon and, possibly, he thought of me as he did it; thought how I’d sit on a dock (with a friend – incidentally the other writer on this blog) on a cool summer night and wonder at the moon. I felt full too: like God himself refracted from the moon to my soul, felt the encouragement from taking notice, and profundity, as a dam fissures and gushes: so God was to me in the moonlight. How could all this be without God? This great satellite, collections of galaxies and lights, everything twirling, and twirling in chorus – and the abundance of life here on Earth. This bubbling fecundity was the wax seal of God somehow – I could feel it.
I saw the moon again this week while I drove down the freeway. Crescent, luminous – the great fingernail in the sky. I felt the exact same as I did on that dock, drinking in the moon, only with much different understanding. I was still swept away in its grandeur, but – and here’s the point – it really was the exact same feeling: the enormity of the moon, and life, and the heavens, and the earth – the enormity of it it all.
It was still so big, all these years later, but no longer because of God. No longer did I see the invisible deity or feel his wonderful but mysterious plan for my life. I just saw the moon, and felt the same profound wonder sluice over me. But I now know more about these feelings and what it is I’m staring at. Know about the moon’s possible inception, its distances, its ancient, dusty craters. I know more about the earth, too: how it came to be and to host such multitudes of life, sheltering huge columns and chapters of history that have come and gone, come and gone.
Eventually the moon will go too and perhaps a bookend will be compiled instead of a chapter. The moon shall become a period. That will be that. It will come and go just like millions and millions of creatures and rocks and minerals on the earth have come and gone in so many ways: gradually, here a little, there a little, sometimes quickly, sometimes enduring, on and on until it is no more.
And, driving in my small car down the freeway, I felt tiny and grand and altogether happy to be a part, even an infinitely small part, of the motion in the universe.