Winter Nights Of Awe
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Winter Nights Of Awe

I was driving home on the evening of Oct. 26 when I was struck by the view of the moon. I have, of course, seen the moon before. I have even, on occasion, remarked on its beauty. But this moon was special, astounding really — rimmed with silver, aglow like a massive disco ball in the sky. I pulled over, got out of the car, and stared at it for a while.

I couldn’t recall a moon sweeping me off my feet like that before. How, then, had I missed it two days earlier, on the eve it glimmered in its full moon-ness?

Perhaps it was because I was cooped up at home that night, though it’s more likely I was running around at my usual hectic pace, too harried to notice it. I confessed to myself that I’d long taken the presence of the moon for granted, often failing to see its glow against the darkness of the night sky.

Meanwhile, weeks passed and I couldn’t shake the feeling I experienced when I caught a glimpse of that splendid moon in late October. It was as if a light switch had clicked on in my chest, like the rush you get when you fall in love or first hold your newborn and the wonder takes your breath away. Only later did I realize that the powerful sensation I felt was awe.

Like the generation present for the original splitting of the Red Sea, we, too, would recognize that we had witnessed such an outsized miracle if it were to occur again in our time. We would capture the waves as they rose to reveal dry land beneath our feet and post the photos on Instagram. For reference, remember how taken we all were by the total solar eclipse of 2017, how it stopped us in our tracks in amazement?

Yet there are miracles happening every day right before our eyes, albeit of less biblical proportions. The thing is we’ve gotten used to them, forgetting how to bask in their familiar glow. I figure God offers us moments like that stunner of an October moon to shake us out of our complacency, hoping we’ll pay more attention to what He has created for our everyday viewing pleasure.

At the same time, God has granted us the humble, less pretty earthworm. Little miracles in their own right, these soil workers possess a unique kind of magic, though we hardly give them much thought either. Instead of eyes, they have light receptors that tell them whether they are writhing above ground or in the earth below — meaning they can’t see, but know when they’re in the light and when they’re not.

We humans, on the other hand, can see light, including the fixtures that shine in the heavens after dark. The moon is up there every evening, and a full moon each month for us to behold. Still, it’s up to us to put down our phones and admire them, to pull over to the side of the road once in a while and let that complete sense of “Wow!” wash over us.

But we do have something in common with earthworms. Our receptors also help us sense when the surrounding light is all-encompassing. Even when we can’t make out the shapes in the dark, we can feel God’s presence in the world as we admire the miracle of His beautiful creations. And if we listen closely, we can hear the sound of that click in our chests, that feeling of love and awe rushing towards the deepest part of our souls.

This more than anything reminds us of our unique human potential — not only to see the light, but to be one. After all, one of God’s greatest gifts to us is that He has not put us here alone. As Portia says in “The Merchant of Venice,” “How far that little candle throws its beams!” The kindness we mortals extend to one another shines some of the brightest light in our world.

We’re now into the deep of winter, with its short days and long, cold nights. But we still have to go out after dark, to run at the hectic pace our lives so often require. Let’s take a moment, even if it’s in the parking lot of the supermarket, to admire the pendant of the sparkling moon. May it inspire us to both give and gather blessings wherever we go, with that song from our childhoods playing in our heads:

I see the moon,
And the moon sees me.
God bless the moon,
And God bless me.

Merri Ukraincik, who lives in Edison, N.J., is a regular contributor to The Jewish Week and New Jersey Jewish News. Follow her at merriukraincik.com.

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