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A sample reflection from Advent 2020 ...

Under the Same Moon

I love the climax of Ted Hughes’ delightful autobiographical poem ‘Full Moon and Little Frieda’. He’s in a Devon village in 1962, night is falling, and he’s outside watching the cows coming home along the lane with his young daughter, when…

‘Moon!' you cry suddenly, 'Moon! Moon!'

The moon has stepped back like an artist gazing amazed at a work
That points at him amazed.

How wonderful, a toddler's reaction at seeing the moon - which has peeped out from behind a cloud, flooding the darkening scene with soft light and unveiling a pastoral work of art in the process, the centrepiece of which is surely 'little Frieda'.

I'm reminded of my daughter’s amazement at seeing the full moon when she was that small; and of my own shivering sense of visceral awe, as a little boy, on stepping outside after dark at my grandparents’ house in the countryside and feeling over-whelmed at the celestial canopy above.

But it makes me think, above all, of God, the artist, stepping back in amazement at Creation, which is pointing back, amazed, at God.

*     *     *

Did you see the moon last night? Wow! In fact, it’s full today, and if you’re a veteran of this series, you’ll know that I love to create a ritual around getting out to witness it. It helps us, to step literally into the darkness of the season, and to let our eyes adjust to a softer, lunar kind of light.

As the poet Rilke advised: ‘Whoever you are: some evening take a step out of your house, which you know so well. Enormous space is near.’

It's a different kind of space, of course, but one the psalmist also appreciates: ‘Day to day pours forth speech, and night to night declares knowledge’ (Psalm 19). Perhaps we learn how a quick surface glance in daylight doesn't always plumb the hidden depths of life. There is a different way of seeing, with the eyes of the heart, and as the prophet Isaiah declares, there are treasures to be found within the darkness.

*     *     *

Isn't it humbling, to think of Mary and Joseph making their way to Bethlehem in the light of this same moon we might see tonight? And isn't it wonderous to remember that the Magi were guided by the night sky as they followed the star to the child?

We all walk ‘under the same moon’ as the poet Edward Thomas put it, as he thought about his friend Robert Frost in America. We, too, can look up, to remember those we love who are far away, under that same moon. Or to pray for those in our Advent community who are suffering. Or to remember those we have lost...

Most of all, though, let's remember Jesus, born into human darkness, in the shadows of the night. Treasure, indeed, for those with eyes to see. Perhaps he, too, as a little boy felt the tremor of awe as the stars above reflected in his eyes. Perhaps he, too, mouthed “Moon!” in wonder, as the moon stepped back like an artist, amazed at who was in the picture, pointing back.

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