OPINION – Did you see it?
Did it take your breath away?
Wasn’t it awesome?
I’m not talking about the guy who walked a two-inch piece of cable across the Little Colorado River Gorge on Navajo Nation land without a net or tether. The federal government wouldn’t allow him a permit to cross the Grand Canyon proper, and rightly so. The government should not be in the business of encouraging people to walk a tiny piece of cable 1,500 feet above certain death.
No, what I’m talking about is the supermoon, which was visible over the weekend.
Saturday’s show was bigger and brighter than Sunday’s, with fewer clouds and a slightly bigger moon to gaze at. Either night, though, it was a beautiful sight.
I don’t know why we turn our heads skyward for inspiration, answers, or in a quest for answered prayers, but we do.
A big, beautiful moon against an ebony sky has set the writer to wax poetic for more than a thousand years. Lovers stare longingly into the moonlit night, soaking in the ambience of calm and warmth. And, sometimes, all that is needed is for the right shooting star to streak across the sky to make a soulful wish come true. I have been on the grateful receiving end of that. I believe.
Technically, what we witnessed this past weekend was a perigee moon, which occurs when the moon is at least 90 percent to its closest approach to the Earth. This weekend’s supermoon made it appear 14 times larger and 30 times brighter than normal. We get another supermoon this year on July 22, but we will not have one as large as this weekend’s until next year.
The moon, of course, has a tremendous impact on mere mortals. It controls the tides and is thought to have played a part in life emerging from the sea as organisms that thrived beneath the water were strengthened by more prolonged periods in an alien atmosphere of air, making some, eventually, strong enough to find their way to shore with the ability to breathe on land.
The moon plays a significant role in keeping the Earth tilted at 23.5 degrees on its axis, a result of a gigantic planetary collision, science tells us, that created the moon.
And, then, there is the role the moon plays in a solar eclipse, reminding us that we are rather small and insignificant in the scope of a bewildering universe.
Really, though, I would rather think of the moon in other terms, like the soft comfort of a silent moonlit night as the lunar beams reflect off the calm ocean, a gentle breeze on the face, a soft warming of the heart and soul.
The moon knows all, looking down from its lofty perch at a world tilted and whirling, too fast, at times, for us to tread.
The moon has seen all, but holds within its silence the secret joys and tragedies of the heart.
The moon dips and yields to the breaking dawn, signaling the end of night where we weigh the significance of ourselves and whether we wasted another exhausted day or spent it wisely.
We also see the moon in terms of the human soul, with its bright and shining visible side hiding a shadowy, foreboding dark side that is seldom seen.
Those of us of a certain age can recall, unequivocally, where we were and what we were doing on July 20, 1969, when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed in the Sea of Tranquility on the lunar surface.
I don’t think there was a pair of eyes on the Earth that did not turn toward the moon that night in complete bewilderment as we realized that, for the first time, there was somebody looking back.
Only 10 others — Pete Conrad, Alan Bean, Alan Shepard, Edgar Mitchell, David Scott, James Irwin, John W. Young, Charles Duke, Eugene Cernan, and Harrison Schmidt — would follow.
And, although manned moon expeditions would end in 1972, our fascination with our nearest neighbor in the galaxy hasn’t.
“The moon is a friend for the lonesome to talk to,” Carl Sandberg once said. While that may be so, science still studies it, the poets translate its beams into verse, and lovers blissfully walk beneath it.
That guy who walked across the gorge in Arizona last weekend said now he wants to string a cable between the Empire State and Chrysler buildings in New York City and walk the 1.4 miles between them.
You know, sooner or later, the odds will catch up with him and he will, more than likely, plunge to an inglorious death, a victim of his own stupidity.
No thanks and pardon my rudeness if I turn my back, but I will, instead, look to the skies for beauty, promise, warmth, and the continuation of our precious life cycle, not the end.
Besides, I still need to find that shooting star and thank it for a prayer answered.
No bad days!
Ed Kociela is an opinion columnist. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.
Email: [email protected]
Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2013, all rights reserved.