No doubt, the goddess of snow, Chione, daughter of the North Wind, was shrouding the dark evening sky whose neck was adorned with clustered sparkling jewels with a ruby in the center. I’ve read that these diamonds linger delicately between Perseus and Triangulum. Maybe I can view them another time, but it was the festive coppery red orb that the sky upheld last night during the total lunar eclipse that I wanted to see; this silky full moon who would don gay apparel for this Christmas season of Solstice. The curtains were drawn, however, and the show would go on even if I couldn’t be in the audience. I planned on setting my alarm to watch the display, to forego sleep, and imagine unzipping my human cloak to celebrate this celestial ball. But the total lunar eclipse party happened without me being there! Just like the Geminids that fell from the sky like thick fairy dust when I was sleeping. I hadn’t even bothered setting the alarm then because I knew Chione and her father were at it again – taking over the party and inviting whom they pleased. I could probably see it on the internet through the NASA eclipse website, but it wouldn’t be the same. It would be akin to watching the silvery ball come down on New Year’s Eve in Times Square – on television. I would rather be there!
Whine not! I have thrown myself upon the earth, laid myself out flat, to view the spectacular Aurora Borealis that blanketed me with radiant greens and blues fit for royalty. I have seen stars flung to the earth and touched glowing bioluminescent creatures on the dark shores of two oceans. Never mind all the parties that I’ve attended in the daylight – clusters of spring violets dancing in warm breezes, fields of purple lupines posing regally for my camera on Prince Edward Island, and the cascading lace of lady waterfalls in New York. I’ve even danced with Cailleach in Ireland, the goddess of antiquity. I could easily write down pages of parties I’ve been privileged to attend throughout my life. Alas, I have become greedy for more.
I really don’t expect to have the time or finances to travel to all the places I would like to in my lifetime. I bought the book, ‘A Thousand Places to See Before You Die,’ but it is thrown on a dusty bookshelf for now. I still want to go, go, go, but something has altered within me and there’s been some fine tuning going on. Each day before I die, I must see some natural beauty of the Divine that doesn’t have the greasy finger prints of humans on it. Is it possible? Does the smog make sunsets brilliant? Were the clouds in New Hampshire last night a consequence of global warming? I don’t know. I do know that I will become a lunatic if I am unable to view lunar eclipses, sunsets, and, call back to the barred owl with, “Who cooks for you? Who cooks for you all?” One dark and edgy night, I was arguing with a girlfriend as we were driving home. An owl suddenly flew in front of my car in the middle of the road. I immediately put on my brakes and we stared at one another. I stopped arguing with my friend and I will never argue with her like that again. Nature can transform us; humble us; frighten us into prayer; and wrap the arms of the Divine around us in intimacy. Sure, I relish visiting Boston, New York, and cities of the world – the colors of the sky slithering between buildings, the sun’s rays glinting sharply on windows, the boldness of squirrels and birds in parks, and the deliberate splashes of color in flower boxes. The concentration of natural beauty in cities is checkered, layered, and pieces of it float in daytime between throngs of people. But it is still there, polished up perhaps, and maybe squeezed into a tight fit, but there for the viewing.
Solstice…lunar eclipses, meteor showers…The Quadrantids (meteor showers) are coming in January and in April, there are the Lyrids (shooting stars). There is much to look forward to and a thousand things to see before I die.
We did set the alarm and wearily clambered out of bed at 3:00 a.m. to sleep walk out into the back yard to see the total lunar eclipse during solstice. It’s the Christmas season and I expect to see miracles, although I knew darkness draped over the sky and even the stars had been banished from my sight. But there was no view of the pageant going on, and although we were a bit like kids who are disappointed in not finding the gift under the tree we asked for, we soon warmed to the gift we did receive. First, we saw a faint glow over head as we crunched on newly fallen snow. A peek, perhaps, of the eclipse! And then the wind began wooing us with song through the bare limbs of the sentinel trees outlining our yard. We soon realized that there is a private party going on every night in our back yard, and it took a total lunar eclipse for us to be able to crash it.
The Moor (by R.S. Thomas)
It was like church to me.
I entered it on soft foot,
Breath held like a cap in the hand.
It was quiet.
What God was there made himself felt,
Not listened to, in clean colours
That brought a moistening of the eye,
In movement of the wind over grass.
There were no prayers said. But stillness
Of the heart’s passions—that was praise
Enough; and the mind’s cession
Of its kingdom. I walked on,
Simple and poor, while the air crumbled
And broke on me generously as bread.