Touching the Moon

A decade ago, I bought a used telescope at Goodwill. I lugged the thing home and twitched its dials, played with the lenses.

That night, I dragged it out and focused on the brightest, largest object in the sky.

The Moon.

I know the moon wasn’t full. I remember the edge swallowed in shadow. I remember the luminosity of the moon’s ivory surface. And I remember the deep circular maws of where meteors had crashed into its surface.

Looking at the moon’s profile through high powered lenses means to see the gaping wounds, the three-dimensional, tactile dusty landscape that seems to be shouting to the universe. Usually, when I glance at the moon, I see a white Styrofoam ball suspended in the sky, a cool light glowing across the Terran landscape.

Within the moon’s light, I feel as though I am bathed within a sacred water that has no weight, that I am within the great feminine. I think it really is no surprise that the Greeks, that almost all major mythologies and religions liken the moon to women. The sun burns. It nourishes. It destroys. But the moon brings quiet. The moon, in its gentle gravitational urging, thickens and thins the oceans, brings the water to the shores, releases the water back to its depths. The moon is the maternal, the mother of the heavens. She illuminates the Earth’s secrets, divines the mysteries of the world, embraces the hidden corners in silvery light.

I have slept in the forests under the moon’s light, the misty whiteness sieving through leaves and pine needles, spreading across the forest floor in quilted canopies of silver. I felt the moonlight sift across my skin to the rhythm of the crickets’ songs. I lay under the November air and the stars drifted from arched horizon to arched horizon and I was nothing. I was something.

I was a dreamer on a moonlit night within the sacristy of the heavens.

After many years and many false starts, I gave up my large, oversized telescope, brought it back to Goodwill. I could not find the rings of Saturn like I wanted. I could not understand the language of astronomy and was frustrated by what I felt was my stupidity and not just a basic ignorance.

But, I still like to stand on my back deck and stare up at the sky, look to the moon in her orbit. I watch as she goes through her cycle. She opens her face, smiles at the Earth. And then, just as slowly and steadily, she retreats, puts on the black mask and conceals herself within the night. And then, when she has finished her mourning or whispered all of her secrets to the nebulae and galaxies, she once more reveals her face to us. The wheel turns once more. The cycle continues. The world is made new once more.

I remember that night, when I stood in my culdesac and pointed my telescope at the moon and stared in homage at its edge. I remember the sense of awe at its surface, at its landscape uncoiled beneath my eye. I remember my hand clenched against the long, cylindrical body of my telescope, its cool metal surface smooth against my rough skin.

I remember the sense of wanting to touch the moon and its pockmarked surface. I wanted to shove my hands into the cavernous craters that showed up in sharp relief. And yet, I reveled in the moon’s distance, at its unreachability from my humble, earthen hands.

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