Last year's Harvest Moon snuck up on me. I didn't realize what day it was until I was standing in the middle of the street with her rising between the houses and trees, a picturesque moment of closeness that made the cliché movie lines seem totally plausible. Full moons always stop me in my tracks, persuade me to think of life in strange and different terms, and don't easily let me sleep.
I was finishing a run when I saw her. This wasn't a run for the sake of being in shape or training, but one I'm sure many runners go on. It would be safer to say it's closer to masochism than running (although one could argue that runners are, by nature, masochistic) but I left my house at sunset to make my lungs spasm for air, my throat raw, my stomach ache, and my legs fail. I wanted to hurt. I wanted my physical body to feel something because my heart felt too much and my spirit was hurting.
Loss had pockmarked my re-entry into the US after finishing my Peace Corps service. Loss on levels I wasn't prepared for; of family, of dear friends, of my own identity. And it wasn't even over yet.
So as I tasted iron in my mouth and my legs all but refused to move forward and I came around the corner to my house, the moon surprised me and seemed out of place. When you grieve a lot of times you come to wonder how the world continues to move on around you. And here she was, oblivious to my pain and the pain of others, going on as if nothing had happened.
It may sound strange, but for the first time ever it struck me; she always would. She wasn't out of place, she was doing exactly what she was meant to. Civilizations have risen and fallen. Wars have been fought and families scattered and countries renamed. The moon still followed course. I suddenly felt myself sharing a connection with the entire world and all of history; the connection of standing on this earth and looking up at the same moon. Maybe in 300 B.C. a woman would've looked up in the night sky after suffering a great loss and felt the same way? Loss is not personal, it's universal. And no matter where you stand, the moon will still wax and wane.
Somehow that was comforting to me. The world has suffered and still suffers such tremendous tragedies, and yet some parts--like the moon--are unchanged. They bare witness, and carry on. It's not that it made my loss insignificant, but showed me I shared a place with people long forgotten. It stitched a line between myself and all of humanity.
Upon returning indoors I wrote a poem. Poetry isn't really my forte, but I knew there was no way I could clearly explain what had transpired while standing in the street, wishing I could climb over the rooftops and reach into the sky. How many times had the Harvest Moon already risen, and how many more times will she rise?
When I saw the Harvest Moon tonight I couldn't believe she'd already returned. Despite my epiphany a year ago, it still feels so bittersweet to see her again.
by A. Rodgers
The Harvest Moon still rose tonight.
It's as if she didn't yet know you were gone.
The first of many that will come and go,
but this time it will be without you.
I tried to walk nearer hoping to cradle her,
but really I wanted her to cradle me.
They say, "to everything there is a season,"
and I know it to be true.
But the moon is here because she has to be.
She couldn't rise if she knew.
The Harvest Moon still rose tonight,
but tomorrow she'll be gone.
She'll return once again because she has to;
because she still has children to guide on.