By the light of the moon

In South Africa, our electricity provider struggles to keep the lights on. We’re often subjected to bouts of rotational ‘loadshedding’ – a euphemism for blackouts, which alternate between different areas.

While annoying, we’ve learnt to live with them. And I sometimes take advantage of the night slots to wander outside, within the safety of the complex I’ll have to say goodbye to a few months from now.

Right now, I sit here – outside our home – on a chair, in the dark, writing this, as the moon hides behind clouds. She was out in the open earlier, as I walked and tried to take photographs of the night sky. Alas – Astro photography doesn’t work too well with this much light pollution.

I love watching clouds drift in front of her. I tried to capture that in a shot. But the camera couldn’t get it. No camera could ever match the human eye.

And now, there she is again. Clouds clearing, and her perfect circle illuminating the drifting vapour around her. She looks so close…yet she’s thousands of miles away.

Visible to all of us here in this town. In this country. In this hemisphere…well, those of us who have reached night.

We all see the same moon. And the accompanying star above her. Venus, perhaps. I don’t know. Recognising constellations and stars means little to me. Names mean less. I simply wish to watch and appreciate.

I wonder about the patterns she holds within. The grey jigsaw which adorns her surface. Visible to us down here. But what about up there? Are they mountains? Or valleys? Crevices on her cold, stony surface?

What about the night she was split, by her Lord’s command? How many witnessed that – both in Arabia and beyond?

How did those who knew nothing of the miracle explain it?

She’s hiding again. This time behind a giant cloud.

What would it be like to fly inside that cloud? Like Superman, in the old movies…arm stretched out ahead, twisting and turning way above the sleeping population. Freedom of the skies…yet terrifying to me, not just for the darkness of the night, but for the vastness of the canvas I’d traverse.

The crickets chirp continuously. The night-time symphony playing, much like their daytime counterparts, whose tweets and melodies don’t stop from the rising of the sun to day’s end.

The stillness is magnificent. Broken only by occasional cars and the humming of an electrical station not far away.

Urban majesty. A gift of quiet, made possible only by the loadshedding which irks so many…yet is appreciated by few.

And as the lights prepare to come back on – clock ticking towards the 10 p.m. return – I take this moment to revel in this solitude, and express gratitude for time well spent.

Wherever you are, and whatever your environment, I hope you – too – can step away for just a few minutes, and soak your senses in the beauty all around.

It’s always there.

We just need to open our hearts to it…

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