To me, greeting the moon is always a special thrill, like running into a wise and beautiful friend who communicates silently.

On a physical plane, the moon is necessary to life as we know it, one of the many miraculous factors that makes our planet a hospitable home in the vastness of the universe. The Moon regulates our tides, our climate, and the very rotation of our planet. From a Jewish spiritual perspective, as explored on this Gateway of the Moon, the moon has been seen as a symbol for the cycles of our life, the waxing-waning history of our people, and the growing role of women. According to the Talmud, the ritual of blessing the moon each month is akin to greeting or receiving the Shechinah (Divine Presence).

The sages of the Talmud write that the renewal of the moon each month reminds us of the magnificent wonders of G‑d’s creation, as if the Divine Presence in our world, so often hidden, is coming out to greet us. Because the moon has the most visible cycle of all the stars and planets, we take the occasion of its renewal to make a blessing in appreciation of the entire masterpiece of celestial orchestration. –Rabbi Dovid Zaklikowski, Chabad.org

I love to be surprised by the moon’s appearance: day or night, whether huge and full or a thin glowing sliver in the sky. It lifts my awareness from my personal concerns to a higher plane for a moment, reminding me that people around the world see the same moon, and that my ancestors kept sacred time (as we still do), by its light. I sense an ineffable feeling of uplift, of recognition.

For sure, a dramatic “Super Moon” rising will fill me with wonder, and staying up half the night to watch the “Blood Moon” Eclipse (as I share in the Sharing Circle of the Moon) was very exciting. But quiet surprise views of the moon while the sky is still light are very special too. Here are a few recent times that the moon picked me up (within a few months), along with the best photos that I could snap with my phone:

Labyrinth on Long Island Sound

 

I walked a labyrinth with a group of rabbis, as a spiritual exercise to prepare for Rosh Hashanah, the new year. It was early morning by the Hudson Sound and we were instructed to walk in a meditative, silent fashion. My focus was on the earth, the rich vegetation and fresh air. At some point I looked up and saw the new moon of Elul in the sky, reminding me that the Jewish New Year was on its way when the lunar cycle would be complete. It’s hard to describe the feeling of connection to the cycles of life, to feel so rooted in the earth yet connected to heaven. (I don’t have a photo of the moon that day, but here’s the labyrinth!)

 

 

 

Winter Moonrise at Rockefeller State Park Preserve, JHD

 

Almost full moon, JHD

On a snowy walk in winter, I snowshoed up a hill and was greeted by a magnificent, almost full moon in a blue and pink sky.

 

 

 

 

 

December Sunset, Moon and Geese, JHD

 

On a cold winter’s evening, I went out to do a very small good deed for someone. As I was going back to my car, my senses were overwhelmed by a magnificent glowing sunset, at the same time that I saw a beautiful luminous moon in another direction and a flock of geese flying through the evening light.

 

 

 

 

Sunrise in Colorado, JHD

 

At my rabbinic conference in Colorado a few weeks later, I was outside saying my morning prayers while watching a strikingly beautiful sunrise, when I looked up to the south and saw the moon high in the morning sky. The drama of the blazing golden sun was balanced by the quiet glow of the moon above, and…a flock of birds flying by.

 

 

 

 

Do you notice the moon; do you know what phase the moon is in right now? What happens inside when you greet the moon? Please share your own lunar connection and associations here in the comments, or in the Sharing Circle of the Moon.

Get an overview of the Hebrew lunar months, or return to the Gateway of the Moon.

 

Featured Image: Moon by Ninfaj, via Flickr.

 

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