This morning when I set out on my run, I put on my orange reflector vest. It was dark. I ran down the road, scudded across Rings End Bridge and turned to follow the Goodwives River as it pours brackish into Long Island Sound.
The moon was high above the black silhouetted trees, its gauzy white light shimmering on the water. The river water was black, its ripples silver-crested. I ran for a long while just craning my neck to see the moon, then the water. In a half mile the river had widened and widened until it opened into the vastness of the Sound. As I ran along the beach I looked out over the night-dark sea, the moon pouring out a phosphorescent glitter that played on every wave and swell.
The moon exerts a gravitational pull and this morning I felt its tug. I wanted to run into the moonlight, skip across—if I could—the moonlit water. It was all so beautiful and quiet, mysterious and assuring. I did not want to keep running my wonted path: that would curve me away from the water and home by an inland route. I must officiate at a funeral today. Tonight we are hosting a reception for our newlywed daughter and son-in-law, and the house is scattered with Christmas remnants and the usual clutter. I am charged with cleaning it up.
I want to stay in the moonlight.
You know this feeling. You want to hold onto the good, the beautiful, the joyous. I felt it powerfully this morning, but after three or four minutes of pining and whining I knew it was time to let go. The moonlight magic was a gift. Let it go. Trust that other gifts await me today. That’s why we cling so anxiously to those “good” moments—we don’t really believe there are any more coming, at least not in the house and family where we live, not in the office where we work. It is plain, ordinary, uninspiring there. It is dull, cacophonous.
Yes, it is all that. And it is full of glory. Not moonlit splendor, but the tiny eruptions of grace that come when we taste an egg bagel or hear a good story at the water cooler or see the simple winter shadow of a tree. If your eyes are open and you are ready to receive it, the gift is there. But if you are still holding onto the last one, this one will fail to appear.
“The world is charged with the grandeur of God,” wrote Gerard Manley Hopkins. And he wasn’t talking about anything so extraordinary as moonlight on water (re-read that poem!). Want to see that grandeur? Let go of the last great gift. Do it now. Consciously drop it. Be empty and aware. And, I want to say, it will happen. But that is too weak. The truth is, it cannot fail to happen.