On Friday we have a new moon, and if you get far enough away from city lights with the right weather conditions, you will notice that the night sky appears darker than it does when the moon is visible. And in this vast darkness you will also notice that the stars seem a little brighter.
Then you might, like me, think, How interesting. We actually need the darkness in order to clearly see the light.
I’ve been thinking about this as we head toward cooler weather and shorter days. I’ve been thinking about it as the virus continues and we prepare for a second big wave. I’ve been thinking about this as politics divide us, even sometimes from loved ones. I’ve been thinking about it as wars rage on, hate continues unbridled, people starve and the earth cries out for mercy.
It’s easy to get fixated on all this darkness. Kind of like a horror movie that you know will keep you up all night, but you keep watching it anyway. When I get sucked in to focusing only on the darkness–the despair, the sadness, even the arguing over who is right–it is easy to forget the light is there. But stepping back to see the bigger picture, I remember: there are all those stars up there!
Because I need a reminder these days, I’ve started making a list at the end of each day of all of the sparkles of light I notice. There was the story of the high school football players from both teams who helped a paralyzed teammate carry the ball across the goal line. And another of a woman who planted a modern-day “victory” garden and invited anyone who walked by to take food she had grown. And another of a young man who regularly writes notes on his elderly grandmother’s window because she cannot come out of her care facility. And in my own day, a friend who randomly texted me a picture of a beautiful sunset, a hardy little wildflower peeking out of a patch of dried grass, a song on the radio that reminded me of my dad.
If I make a point to, I can look into the darkness and find all kinds of light. It doesn’t mean that terrible things are not happening, but it reminds me that all is not lost, that there is a larger plan. It is also important for me to remember that nature cycles. At first, I can’t see the moon in the sky, then I watch it grow full and bright and then see it shrink down again. And I have to trust that the whole entire moon is there all the time even when I don’t see it in its entirety.
The new moon is when the sun and the moon are aligned, with the sun and the earth on opposite sides of the moon. And of course, there is no permanently dark side of the moon. When the side of the moon we can see from Earth is dark, the opposite side is lit up. These facts bring me comfort; another reminder that both darkness and light have a purpose. And we can’t fully see one without the other.