Still in my pajamas, I put on my jacket and boots and head out to the field. I am hoping to see the “super flower blood red moon” that is in the heavens this morning. In the Pacific Northwest, we never know if cloud cover will clear enough for us to see any sky events. But I am taking my chances.
At first I don’t see anything. I walk into the pasture where the sheep graze during the day and look in the direction I think the moon would be. I see a few stars, and the sky is getting light, so I can also see scattered cloud cover. But where is the moon? Is it hiding behind those clouds? Or those tall fir trees?
After scanning the sky awhile, I still don’t see anything but clouds and a few stars. I turn back to the house, disappointed. Then I decide to try the upper pasture. I just don’t want to miss this moment.
In this pandemic time I have found myself looking to the heavens more often. Last year I hiked out to my field to see the lights of the International Space Station pass overhead. And I spent several nights last summer gazing at the comet NEOWISE. I’m not sure if it is because I have more time to get up in the middle of the night, or because of the phenomenal experience I had in Oregon witnessing the total solar eclipse in 2019. Or maybe it’s just that in these times I am wanting to get as wide a perspective as I can on what it means to be human.
In the upper field I can’t find the moon, and the eclipse window is rapidly closing. I keep looking where I think it should be and there’s nothing there but clouds, with a few stars peeking out. I remember hearing that one of my predecessor ministers at my church, Dale Turner, loved to say to his cloud-covered PNW congregation, “Mount Rainier is there even when we don’t see it.” I take a bit of comfort in that. But still.
I turn to head back down the hill, finally giving up. Of course that’s when I see it. It just appears before me, like a revelation. It’s low in the sky and farther south then where I had been looking. It takes my breath away.
I only get to see this moon for a few minutes before it moves out of the earth’s shadow and sets. But those few minutes are enough to remind me that there is beauty all around me. The beauty of a super flower moon in full eclipse. The beauty of dawn with the eastern sky as it is now turning pink. The beauty of early morning bird song, in fall chorus.
As I walk back down the field there is enough early morning light to guide my steps. My guardian dog Giaco barely looks up as I come through the gate, and when I go upstairs the dogs there are also settled. I will get another hour of sleep.
I remember again that there is beauty all around me. Sometimes it’s covered up. Sometimes I’m just looking in the wrong direction. Sometimes I see it. And sometimes, it simply reveals itself.