There's a total lunar eclipse tonight, from 7 p.m. til 10 or so, Mountain Time. But that's not what I'm writing about.
Lunar eclipses always occur during full moons. And full moons always rise exactly at sunset (if that seems mysterious, a pencil and paper will help you figure out why). And that's what I'm writing about: that exact moment when the sun is perched on one horizon, the moon on the opposite. Happens once a month. It's a charged moment, as if the moon, sun and Earth are all in precarious balance for a brief instant. Time seems to slow down to accommodate it, balanced as well. Then the moon goes up, the sun goes down, the moment is over, time snaps back, life goes on. We try to experience it firsthand several times a year, by driving out to the bank of the Arkansas River to watch the full moon rise. The girls, predictably, are more interested in playing with the car radio than watching the moonrise.
In "Gilead," one of my favorite books ever, Marilynne Robinson does a much better job of of describing it than I:
"Then I realized that what I saw was a full moon rising just as the sun was going down. Each of them was standing on its edge, with the most wonderful light between them. It seemed as if you could touch it, as if there were palpable currents of light passing back and forth, or as if there were great taut skeins of light suspended between them. I wanted my father to see it, but I new I'd have to startle him out of his prayer, and I wanted to do it the best way, so I took his hand and kissed it. And then I said, 'Look at the moon.' And he did. We just stood there until the sun was down and the moon was up."
Such clear, simple writing.
So bundle up and go outside tonight (or stay in the car with the heater on like we do) and look up at the sky for awhile. See the moon and the sun and the Earth at play.