Environment Writing

Lunar Eclipse

Lunar Eclipse on Jan. 20, 2019. Photo Credit – Van Allen Observatories, Iowa City, Iowa.

Refracted light creating a reddish-orange hue on the moon’s surface looked pretty cool last night.

It was an event to remember, one that transcended daily life. It drew many of us together with a shared experience.

In the eclipse it was easy to imagine and literally see the vast emptiness of the universe. It reminded us of how reliant we are on our only home with its thin layer of atmosphere. No human hand played a role in the astronomical phenomenon except to warn us, as astronomers have since ancient times, it was coming.

Lunar Eclipse Taken with Mobile Device

The event had a long name: super blood wolf lunar eclipse. I don’t need or want a name, just memory of the image enlarged on my retina with a pair of unsteady binoculars.

After sunset the sky was as clear as it gets. The full moon illuminated everything in bright, silvery light. A few years ago I would jog on the lake trail in such light. As the eclipse progressed, the landscape darkened. The moon moved above the house so I went out to the driveway to see it. It was below freezing and I returned inside several times to warm up.

Witnessing the lunar eclipse lacked profundity, it being a function of celestial mechanics. If I was inclined to howl, that’s on me and my humanity. The experience asks the question why can’t we get along when we have so much in common? No answer was forthcoming.

I thought of Juliet’s speech to Romeo:

Although I joy in thee,
I have no joy of this contract tonight.
It is too rash, too unadvised, too sudden,
Too like the lightning, which doth cease to be
Ere one can say “It lightens.”

I cling to the shared experience even if my view is blurred by an intervening atmosphere, inadequate lenses, and less than perfect eyesight. If the shared experience serves a human purpose, I’ll assimilate it, becoming the eclipse. Maybe it could transcend physics to help sustain our lives in a turbulent world.

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