I clearly remember the day when I realised that we all see the same moon. This may come as a surprise to you – not that we see the same moon but that it took me so long to realise the fact. I was away from home, travelling with work, and I rang home to talk with Lyn and happened to mention the beautiful moon that night. As I spoke the words I had the simple epiphany that she would have seen the same moon that night, even though we were separated by many miles! Of course, local conditions like cloud or surrounding features could have altered her perception of it, but it was the same moon, showing the same amount of light! And that it would be the same moon for anyone looking up at the sky, anywhere in the world. For me, that moment was memorable.
Up until then I had been more than aware of the differences that we have between the northern and southern hemispheres. Our summer is their winter, our night is their day. And I had kind of assumed that it would extend to all things cosmological. Yet here was something that could bind us together in some small way. As the moon and the earth carry out their timeless, interwoven dance in their shared orbit around the sun, the moon presents a common face to all on planet earth.
It reminds me of another realisation that came later in life than I care to admit, that, on the spring equinox and the autumn equinox, all of the earth experiences 12 hours of daylight and 12 hours of night. (For the pedantic amongst us, there are subtleties of course, but I think we can rise above them to celebrate this moment). Even the polar caps that go through months of darkness followed by months of daylight have a brief period, in common with the rest of the world, where the sun goes down after dinner and comes up before breakfast – when the sun is over the equator and shining evenly on all.
These two phenomena remind me of those things that we have in common as humans, rather than those things that divide us.
So today I celebrate the beauty of the moon and the beauty of all of the universe.