At the end of the day faith is a funny thing. It turns up when you don’t really expect it. It’s like one day you realize that the fairy tale may be slightly different than you dreamed. The castle, well, it may not be a castle. And it’s not so important happy ever after, just that it’s happy right now. See once in a while, once in a blue moon, people will surprise you, and once in a while people may even take your breath away. -Zane Grey
This quote from Zane Grey appeared in our local paper about the time we were experiencing a real blue moon on Halloween night. You probably learned, as I did, that a blue moon isn’t what it sounds like. The moon remains it’s normal color A blue moon refers to the second full moon in a calendar month. Our last blue moon was March 31, 2018 and the next will be August 22, 2021.
A “real” blue moon only appears when particles wider than 900 nanometers scatter red light and the result for us is a moon of any size that looks blue to the human eye. More about that here.
I’ve never been particularly fond of astronomy. When I’ve looked through telescopes I’ve never seen anything that made me dance a jig. However since Covid-19 came to call, astronomy and I are on much better terms.
Take planets, for instance. One morning a few weeks ago–before the time change–unable to sleep, I got up to watch the sun rise over the state park behind our house. A brilliant light hung over the park. I knew immediately this wasn’t any old star. I was reminded of the Star of Bethlehem and figured that if shepherds and wise man saw this one, they’d be on their way to Florida.
The light, of course, was Venus. And she’s been there every morning since–if I get up in time to greet her. She’s moving and won’t be a permanent feature of my mornings, but while she is, I’m enraptured.
Then, there’s Mars. When discussing Venus with Proman he said Mars was supposed to be visible in the night sky, too. We went outside and wow! No mistaking Mars that night or any since. Mars is red. It really is. Did I think this was an old wives’ tale? I guess I did. But you don’t need a telescope, an iPhone app or even good sense to know that’s Mars glowing amber in the sky.
Then, with only a tiny bit more work. I realized that Jupiter and Saturn were probably those huge shining “stars” not far from Mars. One night I was sure I could see rings…
Throw in the blue moon. Astronomy reigns in our household
Two nights ago I got up at 1:45 and 4:30 to see the Perseid Meteor Shower, which was supposed to be at it’s peak from midnight to six AM. Unfortunately we had cloudy skies on the horizon. Proman, who got up once, too, didn’t see any shooting stars. I saw only one, but that was enough to make me feel that missing several hours of sleep was worth it.
Zane Grey’s quote at the beginning of the blog is about faith, about the way things are rarely perfect and almost never live up to our expectations. But people can still surprise us and sometimes take our breath away. These days the sky, the stars, the planets and the blue moon have me gasping in awe. And my sudden interest in all of them is nothing less than a mysterious gift.
I commune with the skies almost every day now, early in the morning or late at night. And as I do, my own faith in something far larger, far more important, than my tiny speck of a life grows and expands.
I hope that my own recognition of how amazing our universe is and my gratitude to be part of it doesn’t just happen “once in a blue moon.” I hope I’ll remember these nights and mornings and always be grateful.