Sometimes I go walking at 11:00 at night or later. This is a pleasant time to be out during these hot summer days, and seeing the full moon on one of my walks this week was a special treat. The full moon this month corresponded with Independence Day, July 4.
I have always been fascinated with the motion of the Earth, the sun, and the moon. On the days of equinox and solstice I try to stand and face south and think about the relative position of the planets; where we are in the course of the year (Earth’s trip around the sun); where I am on the face of the Earth (northern hemisphere); how the Earth is tilted on its axis; and how I am travelling with the surface of the Earth as it spins daily, causing the sun to seem to rise and set.
I noticed that the full moon this month was lower in the sky. When I stopped to think about it, I was confused. Why isn’t the moon higher? We are just a couple of weeks past the summer solstice, when the sun is at its highest point for us here in the northern hemisphere. After looking up some very complex explanations on the internet, the best I can understand is that the moon’s orbit around the earth is in a slightly different plane from the earth’s orbit around the sun, accounting for its variable height in the sky.
Getting a different perspective is useful. Getting outside of my own worries is good. When I stop to think about my position on this earth, it helps me become aware that I am not at the center of the universe, but just one piece of it. Naturally we are conscious of the sun these days, dominating the summer sky and our awareness in a heat wave, but the moon has its own rhythm as well.
July 4th held a similar lesson for me: naturally I am conscious of this holiday. I was born and raised in this country; I have memories of picnics and fireworks from my whole lifetime. And this year my awareness goes in two other directions: first to other countries on earth, dealing with the coronavirus in their own way, many of them more successfully than my red, white and blue homeland; and second, to the two Americas that exist side by side. While white America celebrates the ideals of freedom, Black America reminds me that freedom under this flag has always been conditional. My perspective dominates my awareness, like seeing the sun in the sky and like being aware of white American culture. Like the moon that is there when I pause to notice it, another cultural perspective is visible to me when I take the time to understand it.
Spirit of the full moon, be with me now. Help me to know time in your rhythm. Help me to slow down and ponder my position on this spinning ball of Earth.
Sunlight illuminates, and moonlight reveals its own truth as well. May I be open to the visions of both.
May all beings be blessed by sunlight and moonlight; may we all know multiple truths and be open-minded enough to accept other perspectives.
Amen. Aho. Blessed Be.
Rev. Andrew Frantz
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