I love the way the moon shines through the clouds on a night when they aren’t quite thick enough to completely block the light but not quite thin enough to let its shape show clearly, either. Last night, after I rolled the big trash cart out to the curb for today’s pickup, I turned back toward the house. I saw the glow coming through the clouds, a bluish halo mostly circular in shape but a bit distorted by the varying thickness of the clouds.
Beyond that muted light, the sky was dark. Not ominous, just dark. I stood still for just a while, studying the way the high, slender limbs of the neighbor’s great maple swooped upwards. I saw the dark silhouettes against that soft glow, saw the branches shuddering in the strong southern breeze. Leafless, of course, on a January night in southern Kansas, the finer stems disappeared toward their ends, too thin to be seen in that bit of light and from this distance.
I thought of lives I’d known, of people whose softer light never cast shadows beyond those who surrounded them. Those whose quiet and gentle ways made long days seem more bearable, whose lack of loud demands made them easier to be with. I thought of some of the folks around Browns Grove, Kentucky, that I’d known so many years ago. I thought about a couple in Columbus, Ohio, that I’d met while I was in grad school. I remembered with deliberate appreciation some of the church folks I’ve known over the years: Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, Ohio, Missouri, and Kansas. A few relatives, a number of people with whom I’ve worked.
I’m sure it is the brighter moon, the spectacle of the eclipse and the moon’s full glory on a clear night that brings such delight and moves us to marvel. But when life is quiet and the stage not so crowded, in the tender hours of memory, it is the softer light that moves me to peace. Memories of those whose hands were not heavy upon my life but who certainly touched my soul, who showed me one does not have to stand center stage. Those who are barely caught in the careful look behind the draping shape of the curtain, whose hands have nonetheless shaped the show.
I look up at the sky on a lightly shrouded night, see that muted glow through the clouds, and know that God’s work in my life has not always been done through the glaring light. Sometimes his fine and wonderful work is shown in soft and gentle movings that lead me to be still and know.