It’s 10:00 p.m. on Monday, February 22, 2016 and tonight there is a full moon. As usual at this time of day, I’m outside with my chocolate lab, Cedar. We’re taking the final walk of the day. Sometimes this last walk is brief – we’re both tired, or at least I am, and we’re out only long enough to allow Cedar to ‘do her business’ before sleep carries us off to morning. But, tonight, we’re out for a longer walk – because the sky is clear and the moon is full and we can see without a headlamp or flashlight. Is there anything more beautiful than the night landscape in winter under a full moon? Perhaps there is, but right now I can’t think of what it might be.
As we walk along the road that makes a circle around the small bit of woods in our part of the world, I am reminded of how much I love walking in the stillness of a bright and calm night. The shadows are different; softer and fainter. The night sounds are distant. We hear a dog bark and an owl call. The cold cold ground squeaks under foot. The snow is gone – too much rain and thawing in the last few days. No more ice to watch out for with each step. So, I can walk easily and place my attention on other things. I’m thinking about how grateful I am to be able to walk in nature – no city “light pollution” – and see only what can be seen by the light of the moon and hear only what can be heard in the stillness of the woods. I’m thinking about how much I enjoy these walks with Cedar; we don’t talk much as there is no real need for words between us. We know each other’s needs and gestures, and a soft whistle will bring a wandering Cedar back to me. I am thinking that there is so much to love about this life I have been given. I have a loving family and a loving spouse and good work and I live in the middle of the sanctuary of the great outdoors. Blessings surround me. And one more time, I breathe in deeply the cold winter night air as we two, having made the circuit of the woods, return to the front door of our warm and safe home.
In these waning days of winter, may each of you take a moment to savor the blessings of the darkness and cold night air (illuminated on this night by a full moon) that cover us in a blanket of introspection and deep awareness of the presence of Life.