As I walked down the hall, a surprising light shone in the window, staining the floors with a streak of orange. I went to the window to investigate; the sun hung just above a bank of cloudy mist, a blood orange ball. I remember the sun appearing this way in the polluted skies of China, rising through the dust and dirt like an angry beacon of warning. We had no choice but to breathe and live the best we could with our international work contract. So many of us couldn’t adjust, coughing fits rang out daily in the halls of our building. As I walk away from my window, I know this warning sun speaks of desperate fires east of us, destroying miles of forestland by the minute.
Later in a coffee shop, a woman exclaimed, “Oh, did you see the beautiful sun this morning?” I was taken aback. Filled with dread and sorrow, I rejected her joyful tones and held onto my feelings of anxiety and grief, and now added strong judgement at her naïveté. Did she not know about the suffering that red sun heralds?
I went about my day, chores, errands, often spinning back to my judgey thoughts about the woman in the cafe, adding more fear and anxiety to my mucky mind soup. It was hard to focus on the tasks at hand with the tiny tornadoes in my head. By evening, I was exhausted and not sure why.
As I washed the dishes after dinner, I looked up at a full moon rising in the same window. Harvest Moon, we call it. I took a deep breath, and another. My mind settled as I took in the dark sky, mountain fringe at the horizon, twinkles of stars.
I could have turned that orange moon into fear too. But I didn’t. I took another breath, and chose to see, really see the golden sphere rise. Tinged with a similar glow, I felt no sorrow, or grief, now I chose gratitude for the idea of release this moon signifies. The world is as it is; and while I do want to work for positive change; anxiety and judgement about who is to blame is so seductive, and I choose to refuse to put my attention and my intention there. If my attention is limited; and surely it is, then I just don’t have time for that nonsense. I can’t choose what surrounds me, but I can choose what to focus on, what to rest my attention on, to remember over and over my intention, of love. Open handed gratitude and grace.
The trees know too, the light has shifted, it is time to release what is no longer necessary, sink inwards, store root food for new life to come. It is time to make friends with the dark, nestle in her arms, and rest. Release to rest.
Can I be more like the tree, I wonder; the water in the sink flows over my hands as I turn the soapy dish. The moon rises over my head, now silvery, silent, a benediction. Yes, the moon seemed to say, we can hold grief and joy in the same hand, we can hold everything—the red sun, the orange moon, the darkness, judgement, fear— in the flow of compassion, love, light. I placed the dish in the drainer as the moon continues to rise, blissful in the sky.