Tuesday, May 5, 2020

What's So "Super" About the Moon?

I saw the waxing moon in the sky Monday evening, which will be full by the end of the week. It is to be another instance of a full moon at a time when its peculiar orbit brings it closer to the earth than usual. We call this a super moon, not because it changes into something greater than itself, but because of the way it appears to us: larger in our sky, brighter, more fascinating.

Humans have traveled to the moon, walked on the moon, analyzed the composition of its elements, brought back samples we can see in museums. We know that it reflects the sun's light. We know many scientific facts about the moon, and we continue to research various scientific questions. There is much we could say about this important, interesting, and useful work.

But there is something else involved when, on a Spring evening, we see the moon in the sky and are captivated by its luminous figure.

We are suddenly struck: "what a beautiful moon!" It does indeed appear to be "super" at the moment, grander than all we know about it. We are surprised by beauty.

The heart lifts up. The heart cries out, "wonder-ful!" Where does this sense of wonder come from? Why can't we capture it, freeze it and hold onto it forever?

We want that, don't we? Beauty forever. Who would say "no" to that?

And yet it eludes us. The moon fades behind some clouds. The moment passes. We return to the house. Dinner is ready and it’s time to eat. Then it will be "time" for something else. 

The moon will move through its phases, the months and the seasons will change. Everything comes and goes with time. But the beauty of the moon on an evening like this reminds us that we are not satisfied with temporary things. The experience of life is always hinting "eternity"--it says to us, "this joy should last..." 

And our hearts respond, "I want forever." 

Is it a lie, a trick, a tragedy, this life of ours with its aspiration for a "super"-wonderful experience, an enduring ecstatic fullness? No. Something must be true in all of this. 

Obviously, we can't "capture reality" and make time stand still. The whole point anyway is that we desire something that is beyond us. We can't make it from ourselves. But we can ask for it...

Never give up! We have been made to seek the Beauty that reality points to every day. So go ahead: ask for the moon.