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Night Light


The world is charged with the grandeur of God.
It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
Crushed.
  — Hopkins

Stepping outside after the fall of first dark. Rose and gold leaves shrugged off the Copper Beech and the Japanese Maple glimmer on the damp pebbled walk in the soft light from the porch. I turn west along the sidewalk towards the corner and glide into the brief shadows of the cedars. There, beyond their edges as I glance up. There, behind the nimbus of mist haloed around the streetlight. There the new moon rises tilted like some open, supplicating palm against the darkening last faint line of day far away.

Cupped in the upturned arc of the new moon I see, faintly, the disk of Earth’s shadow — dark against darker dark.

I’m out on a very small errand for a quart of milk at the corner store. Only a few seconds in the night. Only a few steps in the night when going either to or from. Ordinary. Unremarkable. Mundane.

And yet here I am. Here we all are. Here we prepare with milk and bread for one more day of the Earth turning before the sun; for one more cycle of the moon turning around the Earth. Waning and waxing, in and out of shadow, obscuring and then revealing, and then again obscuring its face. And this cycle (Ordinary. Unremarkable. Mundane.) is one of twelve cycles that adds up to one more cycle of the Earth around its single star. A star that is utterly unremarkable. ( Ordinary. Unremarkable. Mundane.) And that star moving inside its own revolving galaxy, moving at 514,000 miles per hour towards Vega in the constellation Lyra. And from that home star, at only an 8 million mile remove, I — or you — or someone else entirely — steps out into the night and goes to the corner store for a quart of milk. (Ordinary. Unremarkable. Mundane.)

You say you don’t believe in a Creator?

You say you don’t believe in grace?

You say you don’t believe in miracles?

Walk with me to the store for a quart of milk. Walk in star shine from the night lights forged in the impossible fury of the First Moment.

Open your eyes.

Open all your eyes.

Look outside — look beyond — yourself.

Behold.

Vega in Lyra

 

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  • ghostsniper September 30, 2018, 4:42 AM

    No Moon
    I start my brief trek across the 60 foot bridge at 6am everyday, across the bridge that links our house with my office-workshop. The bridge is umbrella’d by tall Sycamor trees with 16″ leaves and a coupla red oaks. There is no sky in the summer but the leaves are falling and slowly revealing the open night show above and beyond.

    At this time of the morning the world sleeps and the sky comes alive. Black as death and dotted with lights. My view is northerly so there is no moon as it is behind me, if it is at all. The Big Dipper is the star attraction and I watch it each morning, same time, same place. It is moving, so slowly as to be almost unnoticeable, but I see it. Each morning it creeps farther to the west, very slowly. It floats in mid air, just beyond my grasp. I know, cause I have reached for it. I can almost touch it. Almost.

    The blank slate with pinprick holes letting light into the world create a palette for reflection as I stand there and stare and sip my mud. Sometimes I heard the deer rustling the leaves in the woods to my left. Most of the time not. Sometimes I hear the coyotes in the field beyond cavorting in their early morning dance. Sometimes the hoot owl makes an appearance with it’s raspy call. I star at the dipper.

    A thin white slash races across the chalkboard above, down, and gone, just that quick. Then another, over there. Little missles from where? A large sycamore leaf falls right in front of me, soundless, then a small crunch as it hits the floor of the bridge. I’ll kick it off the edge later.

    This. It wraps me like a blanket, way away from everything else. There is no trouble now, there is no distraction now, there is just this. I drink it in and swallow it whole. Again. This, is why we’re here.

  • Chris September 30, 2018, 6:09 AM

    Psalm 19:1 (ESV) The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.

  • Kevin Dickson September 30, 2018, 6:56 AM

    Nice stuff. The moon was so red and bright last week. Well….at least it was in south Texas. Sad that as you get older you tend not to take advantage of these things……or worse……..see them without any reflection. I guess that’s why I come here. To be reminded.

  • MLS September 30, 2018, 1:28 PM

    As I get older I am thinking about them more.

  • Ray Van Dune September 30, 2018, 5:05 PM

    “Cupped in the upturned arc of the new moon I see, faintly, the disk of Earth’s shadow — dark against darker dark.”

    If you either don’t care, or don’t want me to tell you that is not, and cannot be, the Earth’s shadow, then no problem, I won’t.
    But if you do want me to tell you, then okay, it isn’t. Your choice.

  • ghostsniper September 30, 2018, 5:48 PM

    “…that is not, and cannot be, the Earth’s shadow…”

    Correct.
    It is what you see, here on earth, when the sun (on the other side of the earth) is shining on the right side of the moon. If it was the earths shadow it would be an eclipse, but it is not.

  • Ray Van Dune September 30, 2018, 6:16 PM

    The dim apparition floating within the brilliant cusps of this young moon is what is poetically known as “The new Moon in the arms of the old” or more prosaically, “Earthshine”.

    Were you at this moment looking at the Earth from the Moon, you would see a huge and almost-“full” Earth in glorious blues, greens, browns, and especially, blinding white. That light is what you see here batheing the portion of the lunar disk still unlit by the rising Sun. This light is always there to some degree, but at this moment (and another when the dying Moon approaches the Sun in about three weeks) the reflection angle from Sun to Earth to Moon is most direct, and the bright crescent is not yet large enough to wash out the ghostly floodlight from Earth. You may wonder why the Earthlight is not more visible, since the Earth is so bright from space. Well, it is because the Moon is so dark. What you are seeing is akin to the reflection of Moonlight on ashphalt!

    There you go.

  • ghostsniper October 1, 2018, 6:27 AM

    Actually Ray, I believe that if you were standing right in the middle of that moon looking at the earth it would look just like the moon but in reverse. The left side of the earth (viewed from that moon) would be lit up similarly to the moon (in the current view) and the right side would be dark. It all depends on where the sun is precisely located of course, but we have no way of knowing that from the current view.

  • Ray Van Dune October 1, 2018, 11:02 AM

    That sounds reasonable at first, but if you think about it, in looking at the Moon from Earth you are looking at a sphere illuminated from behind itself. At the same time, looking from the Moon to the Earth, you are looking at a sphere illuminated from the front of itself (ie. behind YOU, standing on the Moon). The relationship of lit to unlit is thus reversed – you would see an Earth mostly sunlit while the Moon is mostly in shadow. The ratios of the two areas are the same for both objects, but with light and dark reversed. In other words:
    Moon dark / Moon lit = Earth lit / Earth dark

    Go to https://space.jpl.nasa.gov/
    It is a simulator where you can see the current appearance of any solar system object from any other. Enter Moon from Earth, then Earth from Moon, and you will see that the proportion of light and dark areas are indeed reversed.