Get ready for a shocker: I missed that blood moon lunar eclipse. Yes, the one the other night, the fourth in the tetrad, the stunning, luscious celestial vision that dominated the internet and even my most disbelieving friends’ social media feeds. The one that won’t repeat for another two decades, that might have served as a back of the mind marvel and memory for my daughter and I for the rest of our lives. Missed.
Not only did I miss it, but every effort I made to even acknowledge it escaped me. The literary event I was co-hosting that night would have provided a perfect moon mention opportunity. But at the last minute, I switched roles with a colleague, and my plan to reference the auspicious celestial event --right out the window, somewhere behind the clouds-- passed. On the drive home, I peered out the front windshield in search of the dreamy light, the exaggerated size, the drama. Midrise buildings and city streetlamps blocked my view. At home, clouds and treetops were arranged just so, so that even in the last few minutes, though I searched everywhere, the event eluded me..
It’s fair to say that I’m into this type of thing, so you can imagine my surprise when, due to completely uninteresting circumstances, the spectacular crimson orb came and went, unseen. How could I let this happen, I asked myself later that night. But the requisite drama did not follow. Was it possible I didn’t care? Things like rare lunar eclipses used to mean so much to me. I couldn’t fathom that something so intrinsic, my sensitive, mystic heart, had shifted.
During years I lived in the Southwest, it was easy to drive into the desert and watch the meteor showers, or pick out planets, or view the still landscape under the special dim of the moonlight. It seemed like all of the earth’s mysteries were closer at hand, and if you had asked me then, I wouldn’t have ever dreamed of missing a lunar event like this. Night gazing had become a habit, and sky events were obvious and necessary sources of inspiration and expansion. They quite literally supplied me with energy, fed me in work and love and life.
But when I moved to Chicago, I left the spectacular displays of nature and, maybe due to overstimulation, began to cultivate a value for the subtler energies; moonlight over sunlight, quiet over noise, uncertainty over knowledge. I hadn’t noticed, but my value of these subtleties has grown since I’ve lived here. They have become their own energy supply, replacing the obvious grandeur of nature with a gradual evolution of day to night, season to season that has made me more patient, and at times, a softer parent, wife, friend, and artist. Subtlety is a word I often hear when talking to people about their extraordinary experiences. Rather than big, flashy, tumultuous moments, the quiet observations about body awareness, sensory and mental attentions and changes, are the norm. The revelations are subtle, but can still have the effect of a quarter century blood moon lunar eclipse.
In the back of my mind I have carried an old lament about adapting to city life, wishing I was still out west, thinking big and glorious nature was so much more nurturing, sustaining. Subtlety has a gentler, reliable strength to offer. It resembles my childhood impressions of maturity, and maybe my adult impressions, too. What a gift this blood moon lunar eclipse brought with it after all. The biblical lore says the event would mark the onset of some great ending, bring the kind of shift that can level a civilization. I never believed much in literal interpretations, preferring instead the truth of real experience.