Earlier this evening I walked to a spot near my home where I could look over the ocean to watch the moon rise. I was not alone in my plan; strung along the hillside and down the road to the beach were several hundred people, all gathered to watch the full moon come up.
There was a time in my life when seeing so many folks out to watch this event might have annoyed me. I'd have wanted the more selfish experience of watching the moon alone as though it were rising just for me, but tonight I was glad to see the multitude of people who had gathered to witness something so mundane and magical as a moon rise. It felt rather festive.
People were friendly and said, "Hello" or "Good evening," as I sought out a spot to sit. There were families, and couples. People with their dogs and lots of solitary folks like me. Conversations wafted up the hillside through the darkness. People asking what time it was, and "Is that it? Oh no. No, that's just lights on the island."
When the edge of the moon appeared on the horizon things quieted. Hushed murmurs, of "There it is." and "Ooooohhhh it's so beautiful..." And when it finally broke free of the horizon there was clapping, cheers and the sounds of a distant group of human voices howling, with a few dogs picking up the call. And then for a one delicious moment things fell silent again.
Soon I began to hear car doors closing and engines roaring to life. There were footsteps behind me as people passed, making their way back up the hill and heading home. Shortly after I too stood up and began to walk. A long line of cars slowly wound its way up the beach road beside me.
This gathering was not planned. There was no listing on an event calendar, no signs stapled to telephone polls or community bulletin boards. Tonight was just a gathering of people who all wanted to see the bright full moon rise. It seems to me we need more moments like these; moments of witnessing something beautiful together.