With the 50th anniversary of Neil Armstrong walking on the moon this month, it seems good to be mindful of some of the lore and allure surrounding the moon as our loyal, daily companion in the spin of life.
“I love you to the Moon and Back” is a sentiment we didn’t use growing up, but we now say as grandparents. It seems the phrase originated from Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney, beautifully illustrated by Anita Jeram. In this classic children’s story, Little Nutbrown Hare and Big Nutbrown Hare discover that love is not easy to measure:
I love you up to the moon,’ said Little Nutbrown Hare.
‘Oh, that’s far,’ said Big Nutbrown Hare. ‘That is very far.’ Big Nutbrown Hare settles Little Nutbrown Hare into his bed of leaves.
He leaned over and kissed him goodnight. Then he lay down close by and whispered with a smile, ‘I love you to the moon and back.’
Of course, we can measure the distance to the moon and back (477,710 miles to be exact) and men have gone, walked, rode in cars, picked up rocks and returned, as you know, “One small step for man and one giant leap for mankind.” The thing is that the moon is romantic, beautiful, and dark and mysterious all at the same time. Measuring and declaring love by the moon or anything else is the stuff of the ages with prolific sentiments abounding.
Looking at the night sky in wonder, the Psalmist reflected on the majesty of the Lord God and the greatness of the moon and stars that are created for God’s praise and glory and to measure time, the days and the seasons. “O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens…when I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, why do you bother with us? Why take a second look our way? (Psalm 8:3 NIV; 8:4 MSG) Have a look at these Psalms also: 148:3; 89:37; 104:19; 136:7-9.
For those who gaze and reflect, the moon can draw us into God with the awareness of our smallness, yet our deep desire to come out of ourselves in order to see the Divine. This personal prayer of the author Flannery O’Conner in “A Prayer Journal” speaks the truth of my heart. May it be a guide for us we are still in front of the Creator and Creation:
Dear God I cannot love Thee the way I want to. You are the slim crescent of a moon that I see and myself is the earth’s shadow that keeps me from seeing all the moon.
The crescent is very beautiful and perhaps that is all one like I am should or could see; but what I am afraid of, dear God, is that my self shadow will grow so large that it blocks the whole moon and that I will judge myself by the shadow that is nothing. I do not know you God because I am in the way. Please help me push myself aside.
Practice the Presence of God. This week take some time each night to look at the night sky, the moon and the stars in silence and prayer. Journal about what you notice each night. (BTW, during a university moon-watching writing project I discovered the times of moonrise and where it is in the sky actually changes, ha ha. Make sure you google so you can plan your moon watching! )
Reflect on the Psalms and O’Conner’s poem. Find a creative way to express your praise and wonder and prayer in a poem, art, or music. Please share your creations!