But there’s a full moon risin’
Let’s go dancin’ in the light
We know where the music’s playin’
Let’s go out and feel the night.”
-Neil Young, “Harvest Moon”
Fall has always been my favorite season – before PSLs, before Uggs (*cringe*), before leggings as pants and before I bought my yellow peacoat. I love the crisp air, the crackling bonfires I associate with home and family. I long for the atmosphere to sharpen so I can lie on the dock in my backyard and see light-years ahead into the future, galaxies crystalizing before my eyes.
Only recently, however, have I made the connection that maybe I also am attracted to fall because it is a season of change and growth, perhaps a time of renewed hardship and the overcoming of it. I am drawn towards a challenge like a moth to the flame. I am a peace-seeker, but if I’m not able to stretch and sprout and ripen and push back and burst forth, my spirit becomes dull. Where then, is the balance?
Last Friday I marveled at the Harvest Moon. This particular supermoon was unique because it was accompanied by a faint lunar eclipse, a combined event that won’t happen again until 2024. Looking to the sky always shakes me – all of my worldly problems seem so infinitesimally small when face to face with a vastness so deep and dark and mysteriously beautiful. I saw the huge red moon hanging so low in the sky, in between two Philadelphia skyscrapers, and I couldn’t help but lose myself in the mystifying abundance of the blood red moon that is so much larger than my existence.
The Harvest Moon is the full moon that is seen nearest to the time of the autumnal equinox. The word “equinox” comes from Latin and means “equal night” – on this day, we experience just as much darkness as we do light. The orange color of the moon is due to its closeness to the horizon. It’s closeness to the horizon.Here we are, simultaneously moving into a season of more darkness yet also closer to the line where the Earth and the sky meet.
I find this so profoundly beautiful, and such a wonderful illustration of human hardship. The ups and downs are inevitable, much like the cycling of the seasons, but the positioning of your mindset is the one thing that can carry you through the night because of the giddy promise of the day.
I am a full moon rising. In the presence of dusk, the disappearing sun, I know that I love the light too much to stay in gloomy decline forever. It’s not as simple as just choosing to live in night or day. Rather, I vow to glow from the depths of my being even in the midst of a clouded midnight, much like the Harvest Moon with her belly so full of shine and rooted with warmth.
I want a beacon to shine through my weaknesses. Rather than disguise or hide them behind a blinding, polished luminescence, I want to be lit up through the cracks in my spirit, I want to work hard every day in the midst of my burning scars. To struggle is not to fail – no, defeat resides in implosion in the face of hardship, in backing down from trial instead of patiently, firmly staring down your demons. I am not satisfied with being complacent in misery. We are all capable of growth, however incremental it may be. Let us not forget that the moon shines because its surface reflects the light of the sun. In my Autumn, in the battles of my Winter, I hope I have stored enough sunbeams inside of my heart to let them glow for me when I’d really rather wallow in the fog.
The Harvest Moon reminds me that I am here, in the midst of it all. The dark will be coming earlier, but so will the moon. You are never without the light, if you remember to look for it. The red moon is unshakable in her presence – the world around may have grown dim, but there she is, stretching towards the horizon.
And so I will reach, ever so slightly further, towards the sun whose warmth pulls me closer and even towards the hidden moon, a subtle shine that seems evasive but is an eternal light in the darkness. Armed with strength of will and clarity of purpose, I hope my moonlit nights will provide steadfast radiance and deepening incandescence for all of my people out there looking to the stars. I will search for the light, so help me, for all of my days – I know it is there, seen or unseen, and that is enough to fill my heart with hope.