What if we had arrived at the moon with a gift? What if we’d brought an offering of appreciation instead of a flag of conquest?
We might have poured seawater from our cupped palms to give the moon a taste of what it tugs at longingly. Or, we might have laid down feathers from birds who breed by moonlight and leaves from plants who weep by it, telling the moon, “They couldn’t come but we bring their love.”
What if our scientific journey to the moon had been an expression of our love for it and our approach to its door a march to honor it? What if Neil’s first footstep had been a genuflection?
I adore the moon, more for its delicacy in daylight than for its brightness at night. When I first truly noticed it in the blue sky, I was awestruck. Where the moon’s face glows in the night sky and its body flattens, the sunlit sky dampens the moon’s glow and reveals its body. The moon is more a delicate sphere in daytime than the bright circle it is at night.
That first moonstruck chapter was also a turbulent one. I dropped out of college to live at a monastery. I dropped back in, speeding through to get out early. I was wrestling with a trauma I didn’t understand until decades later. But whenever I saw the moon in daylight, I felt moved and held. The luminosity of the moon is more wholly embodied in daytime and I felt that body-ness in my own.
The day-moon still transports me to a liminal place between realms. So, I can’t help but think of that first contact between the bodies of man and moon, and wish we’d taken that giant leap with more love and honor.
Because it’s not about the moon as inert rock vs. celestial being, it’s about who we are as humans when we regard the world we live in as living with us.