Moons and angels

A bright blue day, clouds feathered across the sky, a sun-lit landscape.  Last night, up marking the hours, I wandered into the living room, looked out the back window, and saw the waning half-moon hanging under a bright planet in the eastern sky, beautiful and unapproachable, at least by us ordinary mortals. The room was flooded with moonlight and looked strange and unreal, like a set for a black and white film, all color washed away.

In Chinese folklore, Chang’e becomes goddess of the moon because she swallows a whole pill of immortality instead of the half she was supposed to.  The overdose causes her to float into the sky and land on the moon, where she lives in lonely isolation for eternity, with only a jade rabbit for company. Let this be a cautionary tale for anyone thinking of messing around with pills.

So many moon stories. When I was working as a neonatal nurse, many of my co-workers swore up and down that more babies were born when the moon was full.  “Why?” I asked.  “Because of gravity,” they said. “The moon’s gravity is stronger when it’s full, it pulls the babies out.”  “But but but…it’s not like the moon goes away when you can’t see it. ” Forget science. We know what we know.  And maybe they’re right–I never counted.

A lazy sort of day. Made cranberry-walnut scones from an Alice Waters recipe that never fails–light and crumbly and perfect with mid-morning coffee.  Dragged myself out to the rehab pool and did underwater exercises for 45 minutes: Now the can-can–shake those legs! Now cross-country skiing!  Now side-to-side–do the slalom!  A very sporty group, these aquatic exercise instructors.

Between the short night and the water, I could hardly keep my eyes open on the way home, and succumbed to a delicious afternoon nap, awakened by the roar of fighter planes overhead.  God!  What must it be like for people who’ve actually been in a war?  In bombers named for girls, we burned / The cities we had learned about in school— / Till our lives wore out  (from “Losses,” by Randall Jarrell).

One more day and, God willing, the Angels will go back where they came from, which is surely not heaven.

I could not really comprehend these things, but I sensed their strangeness, their disarray.  I felt that whatever God might love in the world, it was certainly not order.
–from A Bird in the House, by Margaret Laurence

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