I stood there for so long I got neck ache! For, as you know, the perigee and the full moon are not always in sync & so we need to maximize our chances of getting a glimpse. But there it was, before me in the heavens. Sunday night’s super moon! And being a Cancerian I stood there, moonstruck.
For Cancerians –like the crab which is our symbol- are water creatures. We wax and wane with the moon. Apparently. Phlegmatic, introspective, intuitive, emotional, eloquent and nocturnal. If you are minded to believe these astrological claims.
So the moon exercises a strong pull on the mood-prone Cancerian psyche. ‘Never marry one!’ my future mother-in-law told me, when I got engaged to her daughter. Also a Cancerian. ‘Mark my words,’ she said. It’ll be a rough ride! Well: we’re still going strong!
Perhaps because our stars were in alignment the day we met? Who knows! Just as Prince Harry announced on his engagement to Meghan Markle. ‘We fell in love “so incredibly quickly” it seemed proof that the “stars were aligned and everything was just perfect.”’
Well: I wonder whether your stars ever been in alignment? And what was the effect, do you reckon?
For when they do align, astrologers claim, it’s a clear sign of an unexpected and nearly impossible event taking place. Usually due the divine intervention of God… Or else, more mundanely, to pure luck or coincidence!
People have always been fascinated by the idea that there might be a connection between the cosmos and human lives. That the stars and their juxtaposition, alignment or position in the night sky might have some pull or influence on us. Indeed, if you’ve ever had a bout of the flu, you may know that flu –influenza- is simply the Italian word for influence. The influence of the stars on our physical health, mood or indeed good or bad fortune.
Astrology apart, of course, it is scientifically a fact that the first atoms that flared forth in the Big Bang, and those new elements that formed in the first nanoseconds, minutes, hours and aeons are all present in varying degrees in our own bodies. Just imagine that! We are iron, potassium, carbon, and gold. The stuff that made those first stars is present in us. We are, quite literally, star dust! We are creatures of the stars; we are -in Latin- ‘de sidere’: creatures of de-sire. And so our desires are –you now understand- subject to cosmic influence! Apparently!
And while there is indeed a chemical connection between us and the stuff of the cosmos, we may even be –as many cosmologists and physicists now assert- the universe become conscious of itself! Imagine that!
But, of course, it’s equally true that we have generally chosen to downplay this connection. We have forgotten that because we are creatures made of the stuff of the cosmos, we are, therefore, by definition, creatures of the elements, of the earth; we are earthlings, groundlings – like the rest of created things, the other than human world.
Yet, we have chosen to believe ourselves superior to the rest by seeing ourselves alone as made in the image of God. Superior to the rest of creation and mandated –we claim- to do with creation whatever we choose. So as to subdue it, and have dominion over it. As the English translation of Genesis 1 suggests.
And the connections between humanity and the world we live in is freighted with ever increasing desperation by the impact of human activity on the health of the planet and its myriad ecosystems. As every day brings some news of the struggle with the on-going effects of climate change on the lives of every living thing.
Astrology also claims, of course, to be able to discern or foretell the future. To encourage us with the hope of sudden a bonanza or alert us to impending doom. And, as far as the environment goes, the signs for the future don’t look too promising.
How prescient then to read today in Mark’s gospel that signs of the ending of the world will be seen first in strange and scary natural phenomena:
‘But in those days, after that suffering,
the sun will be darkened,
and the moon will not give its light,
and the stars will be falling from heaven,
and the powers in the heavens will be shaken.
Or else that fig trees are a bell weather for encroaching planetary disaster.
I mention all this today, of course, because Advent is the traditional time for looking to the future. However bleak. A time for acknowledging our selfishness with regard to each other, to our brothers and sisters across the globe who lack the basic essentials for life and with regard to the other living creatures, crucified afresh each day by a thousand acts of human greed and arrogance.
Advent is also a time for hoping: and, indeed, it seems, for hoping against hope, as the relentless logic of human hubris, and our urge to dominate and consume seems to bleach away every ounce of common sense and compassion. So, right now, hope for a shared and flourishing future may seem very thin. But hope there. For those who can recognise the signs.
And the hope that this season offers us is the promise of a new born child. The Christ child. Jesus. Yeshua (Mediaeval theologians were convinced he was born under the star sign of –can you guess?- Virgo, the virgin. How could it be otherwise?) But a child born into our world and, so the story goes, visited by star-gazers from the East.
A child like no other – but which parent would could disagree? For every child is like no other. Every child is a sign of hope. Every child who holds out its arms –hoping to connect- is a child of hope.
And the older I get the more I realise that I do what I do I do what I can I do what I must For the sake of the children of our world.
Advent is a time when I think about the future When I take time to pray for those new born and those still to come. That they might inherit a world that is flourishing A world that is sustainable A world that can be experienced as a blessing. A world that they too might pass on to their own children’s children.
And I pray too that future generations might, on some starry moonstruck night, Look up and see the stars and feel the connection, recognise their own history, and give thanks that we did not let them down.