If We Didn’t Have a Moon

How did our Moon come to be?  Most scientists today think Earth’s Moon emerged from a disaster.  A big planetary whack.  For millions of years, we were Moonless, until a Mars-sized planetoid whacked into us.  Just a five-minute blast.  But it hit with the force of a billion, trillion tons of dynamite, exploding a ring of debris into orbit around our planet.  Early proof that from great trauma good things can come.  For over time, fragments from Earth and that Shattered Nameless One collided and coalesced to become our Moon.  Giving us eons of high tides and dreamy Moonlit nights.

The Moon brought many blessings, but best of all was the gift of time.  The force of luna’s gravity slowed our rotation down.  Till then, we’d been spinning pretty fast.  The solar winds were terrible, but ocean tides were mild.  With only the sun’s urging, the sea hardly ventured up the land.  Lacking the Moon’s high tides and lows, life would have birthed more slowly, even timidly, despite the reckless speed of our rotation.  Those first Earth days were short, only six hours long.  We had our year around the sun, but no months to count the seasons in.  Just 1,098 days, all of them windy.

So it was the Moon who really mothered our creation.  She helped us stop and smell the roses, made roses possible at all, weaving quiet hours and wild tides, enabling a multitude of life forms to grow and thrive.  It was a miracle.  For some believe, had that colliding planet started its trip around the sun just a few inches to the left, or a few inches to the right, on that fateful day it would have swung right by.  Missing us completely.  And tonight, there would be no Moon.

Now it seems the Moon’s best work is behind her.  She’s fallen off most calendars.  Sailors don’t sail and gardeners don’t garden to her phases.  Lovers prefer a couch and romantic video to her light.  But have you noticed how fast everything goes now?  It seems the less we watch the Moon, the more rapidly we spin.  So I was not at all surprised to learn the following story from my good friend Jane.  She swears that it’s true.

One night Jane’s power-red business suit would not come off.  This was the suit she wore to her office for an endless string of important meetings.  She put it on early in the morning – before she got the kids dressed, packed their lunches, and dropped them off at school.  She was still wearing it when she picked them up, made their dinner, supervised their homework, mended a broken toy, and while everyone slept, paid the bills.

But alone in her room, she couldn’t take it off.  She pulled and tugged and lost her balance.  Suddenly the house went spinning.  Like a tornado.  The walls tore away.  She tied herself to a short gnarled tree to keep from going with them.  The sun came quickly up and soon went down again.  The night was dark and filled with lonely cries.  Each morning after that, she put a twig in her pocket to keep count of the days.  In thirty nights, she never saw the Moon.

But she did see strange creatures.  Thick skins, gray as the dirt, they waddled, low to the ground, grabbing berries with their noses.  No birds flew, no fish swam; just those hungry grabbing things.  Maybe they would grab her!  So Jane unhooked herself; with the wind at her back, she ran.  In her power-red suit she ran all around the planet, going so fast, she outran the night altogether.  She went farther and grabbed more than anyone.  The ugly creatures saw her and cheered:  “You’re queen of the Moonless things!”

She had it made.  She ran and they cheered.  But one day, going across a dry and craggy patch, she slipped and stumbled.  She lost her shoe and was forced to stop.  Dark came over her like a blanket.  She thought she could hear the voices of her children from far away.  Her heart grew sad.  For the first time in a thousand days, she lay down.  And dreamed.

She dreamed of Moonlight.  A forest.  A sandy beach.  Jane found herself pulsing in the dream’s seafoam with a little pink sea spider.  Together they rode the ocean’s fingers into the forest, all the way to a cypress tree, where the spider danced to a branch.  The ocean pulled away and the spider went to work.  She made a web, dropped her eggs; she danced again, as one by one, her babies shimmered into the Moonlight.  A night bird sang.  The trees stood tall, their leaves murmured.  A hundred pink sea spiders slept.  Until the Moon brought the ocean back.  And Jane, the little spider and her babies went swimming again.

Who knows what day it really was when Jane woke up.  But it was quiet.  The wind had stopped.  Her eyes slowly focused on the faces of her children.  Her power-red business suit was on the chair.  And there in her bedroom window, was an almost full Moon, smiling between the branches of a tree.  She smiled back.

For now she knew the secret.  How the Moon moves through everything and brings all beings, large and small, the gift of time.  We need only listen and feel — for the right moments to swim, dance, weave, and rest.  Jane doesn’t wear that red suit anymore.  You’ll find her in flowing dresses of many colors, shimmering like the Moon.

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