We drove through dusk on I-85 several nights ago, the sun sinking behind the trees next to the highway. The car faced mostly north, the moon rising higher out my passenger side window. I kept my eyes trained on the clouds ahead of me, knowing it was only a matter of time before the setting sun sent her purple reflection to the sky across the way.
From the backseat the kids noticed me snapping photos and began to look around to see what was the big deal. That’s when they saw the sun setting out the opposite side of the car, color closing eyes, leaving behind a trail of glory.
My daughter grabbed her iPad and started snapping pictures, the longing to hold on to the beauty too strong to ignore. I could tell none of those photos would turn out – too many trees, not enough sky. Blurry, grainy, too far away.
But still, she continued to snap. Every time I look at it, it’s different, she said.
And so it was.
I had to crane my neck to see it, but I can tell you the sunset that night was stunning, all neon orange and pink light. The kids loved it. I did, too.
Mostly, though, I kept my eyes trained straight ahead in the direction opposite of that sun show. I watched the more gentle, unassuming, quiet rise of the moon.
Words from a Walter de la Mare poem came to mind like they always do, lines I memorized years ago:
- Slowly, silently now the moon
- walks the night in her silver shoon;
- This way, and that, she peers and sees
- Silver fruit upon silver trees.
As we drove beneath the invisible arc between them, sun sinking and moon rising, I thought about all the ways I tend to look for the brightest light. I want to capture it, hold on to it, keep it close when I sense it sinking away.
But the darkness can be a kind companion as well, comforting and still. The moon reminded me of that, how it’s important to find a way to live with both, to find a way to walk between them without only facing one or the other.
The brilliant purple reflection I was hoping for in the eastern sky? It never really came. In her place, a soft gray quietly descended. I realized I was satisfied with that.
Sometimes we don’t know what we’re looking for until we find ourselves in the midst of it. And what we thought we wanted turns out to be not quite right.
Rejoice and lament, sacred shout and thoughtful silence. Hope and glory, all of it.
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