When I walked the Camino de Santiago, I met some wonderful people, but I also spent quite a few days in silence, speaking only to ask for water, or for a spot in a dormitory. I was walking during the scorching Spanish summer, so I liked to start before dawn, setting off in the blue light that comes before the sun. One morning I came round a bend in the road and was nearly blinded by a huge flash of light. A streetlight? Headlights? A lantern?
No! It was the moon, lighting up the whole valley. You know that feeling when you see a dear friend in an unexpected place? That’s how I felt seeing the moon that morning. Alone in the quiet, in the middle of a new and uncomfortable journey, I felt a little comfort, a little joy. The sun rose soon after, but knowing the moon was still up there helped to ensure that my solitary journey was not lonely.
Earlier this week I was on a home bound plane, having started off that same day in another predawn blue. As the plane ascended, I noticed a red glowing semicircle off to the right, next to Orion, one of the very few constellations I can name. Eventually the red spot turned a bright clear white and I realized it was not a light on the wing at all, but my old friend the moon!
Maybe it was because I felt the same tiredness as I had on the Camino. Maybe it was because I’d had a day full of talking to brand new people, which is oddly similar to a day of silence. Maybe it was because I was way up in the air, where more creative thoughts can emerge. Whatever the reason, I recognized my old friend, with that same sense of comfort and joy.
Dear ones, we are often lucky to be surrounded by human bonds, by friends and family and even strangers who share connection and warmth and love. And beyond these ties, we have even more durable links. The moon was there before I was born. The moon has witnessed my entire life, and the lives of everyone I have ever known. The moon will be there long after I am gone.
And for a little while, she will shine down on me, lighting the way.