Last night the moon passed through the shadow cast by the earth. It happened by pure coincidence to take place on a clear night and a convenient time where I live, so several times over the course of the evening we looked out our window or wandered out into the driveway and just stared.
Inevitably during an eclipse someone has to explain something to somebody, and last night was no exception, so I did my perfunctory posturing as someone knowledgable about such things and diagrammed the orbital structure of our solar system with my hands. My wife stopped caring long before I stopped talking, and to be honest, so did I, because explanations simply aren't near as compelling as the sheer oddness of the moon gradually disappearing from view. So we opted to just stare, wondering why such a thing would happen, half-wondering if we'd ever see the moon again--dumbstruck with wonder.
And of course life went on. We interspersed our dumbstruck wonder with our regular routines--feeding the cats, checking e-mail, fretting--and this morning the moon was where it should have been, thank you very much.
It strikes me that we encounter these eclipses more often than we realize in life. Something interrupts our routines and we try to make sense of it but we realize that in a very real sense we would never be able to, not in a million years, so we try to keep doing what needs doing and endure the dumbstruckness that settles over us like a hopefully passing shadow. My friend with cancer, my friend struggling to pay two mortgages in a limping economy, my friend whose son is injured--sometimes the scope of it is so overwhelming that it seems grace, not trouble, is the eclipse, and that grace passed us by long ago, and now we're back to living without.
If I were a photographer of any merit I would have taken a picture of the moon as it crossed through the earth's shadow, because when you get down to it, the moon is a giant stone, and a picture of a stone crossing was my assignment. L. L. Barkat, whose become a blogger buddy over the past several months, invited me and many others of her blogger buddies to create photographs related to her forthcoming book Stone Crossings, which comes out next month. Barkat writes about grace in this book--not the ethereal, enigmatic grace that we celebrate with greeting cards and scented candles but the hard-fought grace that defies, subverts, judges and redeems the world on which its shadow falls. Grace is a hard thing to write about because it's so abstract; the only way to lasso it and pull it to earth is to write very honestly about yourself, about real life in all its rockiness, about things that are true. That's what I'm anticipating in Stone Crossings: an honest, real, true book about grace.
Check back here over the next couple of months to hear more about Stone Crossings from the inside, and till then, hop on over to L. L. Barkat's blog and tell her I said hi.