He used to arrive each morning and report his findings. Some days he saw it, some days he didn’t. Some mornings it seemed to light up the entire world. Some mornings it only peeked through the translucent haze hanging above us. Sometimes it was as large as all of existence. Sometimes it was only a sliver of its former self. I know each feeling well. I know of the great waxing and waning of a life.
This morning the moon half smiled at me with her half face. I watched her for a while, tracing an imaginary outline around the black empty space where the rest of her had once resided. Now that half was gone. In its place was only darkness.
I thought about the darkness for a long time. I thought about the way he never saw that emptiness, not once, in all of their many early-morning encounters. I thought about the way I have learned to see the splinters of light as incomplete. I thought about the way I am always trying to fill the empty spaces.
And then I thought about him, and the way his child eyes could see the light for what it was – not an absence, not a reminder of something unfulfilled, but just the pure, golden light of a shining moon. And I realized something, or perhaps remembered something, about what it means to be whole.
It is different than being complete, or being full, or being any one thing all at once. It is the darkness and the light. It is the constant ebbing and flowing of each. It is the great waxing and waning of a life.
Because when the moon arrives early, her glow is dulled juxtaposed against the light of the sun. Her shine is brightest against the emptiness. She is at her best in the darkness. Sometimes I am, too.
Sometimes those empty spaces are not empty at all. They are full of possibility. They are reserved for the strength and understanding and brightness that we have yet to discover. They are waiting for us. They are part of us. They are pieces that make up the whole.
Sometimes the half moon reflects the bittersweet nature of everything. Where there is light, there is darkness. Where there is darkness, there is light. Nothing in this world is purely sweet or purely bitter. Not even us. It is all comprised of complexities, as simple as the sky, as intricate as the cosmos. We are all the black night and the shining moon. We are all incomplete in that beautiful, meaningful way.
Sometimes the moon isn’t in the sky, but we know she’s always there, waiting. We know she’ll come again, over and over, illuminating the dark world. We know our empty spaces won’t always remain empty. We know we’ll have another chance to look up and realize, or perhaps remember, that this is the great lesson, the waxing and waning of a life.
And she will look down on us, and knowingly, wisely, shine her bittersweet half smile.