The moon is one of God’s great gifts to the earth and all of its creatures. Waxing and waning month after month with shifting shades of white, gray and orange. School children learn how it controls the ocean tides; old farmers know it influences all of life.
When I was a child we planted our crops and butchered animals by the phases of the moon. Dad always castrated his pigs and calves when the signs were in the feet. They would only bleed a few drops. My grandfather never bothered with the Farmer’s Almanac; I saw his pigs bleed incessantly. The moon even affects how well fence posts can be set. Most people don’t believe this until they witness this, but in certain phases of the moon a post hole can be dug and there will not be enough dirt to fill in the hole around the post. I’ve seen it many times, both in Georgia and in Tennessee.
There is just something magical about a full moon on the horizon. Large and colorful, magnified and painted by the earth’s atmosphere, it begs to be touched by the human hand.
When I was ten or eleven, our Boy Scout Troup went camping at Goldhead State Park. We went for a night hike along the lake shore. The moon was in its full glory, illuminating the sand and waters. The American space program was in its Gemini phase. One of the boys asked our Scout Master, Robert Kelley, if he thought humans would ever go to the moon. I was shocked by his response, “No, I don’t think we will. I know we will. The question is not if, but when.”
As a ten year old I was very pre-scientific about the heavens. How could God allow a human to ascend into the heavens and contaminate the moon? Surely He would stop it. But Robert Kelley was our Church appointed Assistant Scout Leader. He had been an Eagle Scout. Members of his family were prominent leaders in the church. Oh no, faith and reason in full blown conflict in my soul and then a burst of insight; science and faith are compatible. I could be a good Christian and study science (I loved science). And I owe it all to Robert Kelley and a Boy Scout camping trip.
As a child of the sixties the moon became the quintessential threshold of mystery and discovery, revelation and exploration. It remained a heavenly body appropriate for the glory of God and yet it was touched by human hands – at least by space suits containing human hands.
When I see a full moon my first thought is of the majesty, beauty and power of God. I am caught up in the awe of His creation. Given enough time my mind might wander to thoughts of NASA and future space missions, but then I project myself into my future resurrected self and I am walking on the back side of the moon, “where no man has gone before.” The side only God has seen.
April 21, 2010