Sunday, September 26, 2010

Time and the Seasons

Sunrise in San Jose, California, today was at 6:58 AM and sunset at 6:58 PM. Exactly 12 hours of day and night, although the autumnal equinox occurred 3 days earlier, on September 23. On that night, the big harvest moon had flooded the hills and the valleys with light while Jupiter sparkled under it as well. The dynamic duos were a sight to behold.

I woke up an hour before dawn. Orion was overhead and the stars were out for a celestial party. The brightest "star" was Old Jove yet again in the Western sky. Last night I saw him rise in the east. He made his majestic march across the sky during the night, outshining every other party-goer. The Big Dipper had turned "upside down" but, of course, was pointing to the Polaris as it had done for eons.

There is now a deep anxiety among Americans about jobs, homes, kids, the future. Democrats and Republicans are unnaturally polarized and public discourse has sunk to a level of meanness not seen in decades. Surely this state will pass but not before having taken its human toll. The harvest of bitterness is upon us.

That's why it is so important to surrender once in a while to what transcend us, this night sky, this ancient moon, the stars that not too long ago used to steer us to safety. We have technology to do that now but for calming the mind and regaining a perspective on life, there's nothing like looking up at the starry sky, to recognize that we are not alone, that we belong, that what troubles us today will not last forever, that they will be swept away by forces beyond our imagination, and that we will have become stronger for the experience.

Daytime temperature is expected to reach into the 90s this Sunday. But the signs of a mellower season coming our way are all there. Soon nights will grow longer and the weather will cool and we will be buttoning up against the chill. Let this, then, be our winter of content. It will be if we make it so, if we shun the superfluous and begin to cherish what gives meaning to our lives.

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