It started with Logan as curious sessions about the nighttime sky… there’s the moon… stars twinkle… planets shine. Both of us getting lost in the impossibility of counting those glimmering objects and embracing the beauty of the tapestry above us. Those were some of our earlier bonding moments. The practice gained a little formality with Jaden and Dillon. We would venture out before bed time to wave goodnight to the moon, and point out the constellations and planets we could observe from our driveway. If the moon was not visible, we would check all sides of the house to seek it out. As they got older, we would begin to speculate why the moon might not be visible on a particular night.
When we took trips to New Mexico or California to visit family or see the Mouse, we would step outside at night with the boys and say, “see? There’s our moon!” As we were preparing to move to Kansas, we talked about all the things that would be the same in their lives to help them with the adjustments of the transition. We talked about the constancy of our family and the security that comes with that consistent familiarity. Dillon asked if we would be able to see our moon there as well. He seemed very content to learn that we’d still be able to look up and find our friend; even all the way in Kansas. Our tradition of stepping outside at night to star gaze continued for a while… those evenings slowly evolved into random nights on the trampoline, laying with eyes skyward into the great expanse. We’d never say much. We would occasionally call out a constellation or remark in awe about a shooting star. Mainly we would lay there in silent observation and enjoy the fact that we could see the familiar phases of our old friend, and appreciate that we were all pondering the wonder of the heavens together.
We took the skies for granted when we moved back to Arizona. We had the terrestrial and familial comforts that we’d known before we left, so it didn’t seem necessary to anchor ourselves to the habit of seeking beauty and consistency up there. Still, I introduced Ethan to the moon early on, but we didn’t really get into seeking it out regularly until a few months ago. I was amazed by how much he seemed to enjoy going out and searching for the moon. Ethan seemed disappointed the first night we couldn’t find it, so I pointed out all the stars we could see. I raised my arm up toward the sky and sang twinkle twinkle little star to him while motioning with my fingers to keep his attention and his focus above us. He smiled when I was finished, then raised his hands and flicked his fingers open to let me know he wanted to do it again. So I did. We stood out there for a few more curtain calls and admired the beautiful night with our arms stretched up toward the stars. We continued to seek the moon and stars a few times per week.
A few days ago Ethan and I went to look for the moon, but could not find it. We searched the front yard, the back yard… stared out his window… went out on the deck… nothing. Visibility was poor due to cloud cover, so even the stars were difficult to see. We tried the next night, but still it was to no avail. The following afternoon at our friend’s house, Ethan stood outside and raised his hands toward the sky and started flicking his fingers. He looked over to me. He didn’t understand that it wasn’t quite time for that; the sun was high in the sky and night wouldn’t fall for hours. He was seeking it. I had no idea he was so into the hunt. I picked him up and looked at the blue sky with him, and I didn’t have the right words.
I don’t know what it is about staring into that unknown that never fails to enchant me… it could be the insignificance it allows me to attribute to any stress or difficulty I am experiencing at the time or it could be that I just see all the delicate deliberateness that envelopes us and I feel the hand of God in it all. And I realize that I have a small part to play in some of it… then I see my sons stare into all of that mystery and come away feeling content and connected and amazed. This evening, just before sunset, Logan and I went into the backyard to get the younger boys inside for dinner. Dillon, Jaden, and Ethan were on the trampoline. I walked up to the gate in the net to call Ethan over and I noticed a familiar phase. I called out to Ethan and pointed toward the sky. He turned and looked upward, then let out an excited shriek! He clasped his hands and bent over with laughter. He turned his head slowly and looked back up to the sky, almost as if he didn’t expect it to still be there. The five of us looked up at the moon for a few moments…the setting sun casting a brilliant glow. “He’s smiling at us Ethan!”, Dillon laughed as he jumped around his little brother. Ethan stared and pointed as I carried him toward the door. He repeated, “moon!” to each of his brothers until they acknowledged and looked skyward with him. Logan looked proudly at his youngest brother, “You found it Ethan”. Indeed. So Ethan smiled back at the moon.
Thanks for coming along for the ride. Kiss your kids!