I am delighted to share another beautiful submission for the Monk in the World guest post series from the community. Read on for Anne Knorr's reflection on reconnecting with the cycles of the Earth.
The other night my husband and I hiked up to one of our favorite spots in the foothills of Boulder, Colorado we affectionately call the Moon Rock. Our neighbors joined us on the 45-minute trek up the hill with picnic dinners and headlamps in tow. Hiking to watch the moonrise is a ritual we happened onto several years ago when the full moon coincided with my birthday and my husband thought it would be a delightfully fun and unique way to celebrate. It just so happened that this evening was a blue moon, the rare occurrence of a second full moon in the same month. As we sat peering across the horizon, a soft glow appeared just above the horizon, the precursor to the arrival of the moon. We were completely mesmerized as the first sliver of light crept into view and the golden globe began to rise into the evening sky. The sight of the full moon took me back to a time on our boat near the Northwest coast of British Columbia where our every move was tightly linked to the cycles of the earth. I hadn’t realized until that moment how much I missed the profound calm that accompanies being so in sync with nature.
Tides and currents are deeply connected to the cycles of the moon and its gravitational pull. Water ebbs and flows depending on whether the moon is moving towards fullness or fading away. Spring tides (the greatest flow of water) happen on a full moon with water levels changing by as much as twelve feet. Navigating to our chosen destination was closely timed with the ebb and flow of the tides, always striving to have the currents run with us and not against us. Slack tides also played into our decisions when going through narrow passages requiring us to adapt to the ocean’s timing. Falling into this rhythm felt natural, almost like coming home to a place I’ve always known but had forgotten. The earth’s cycles remind me that life is constantly expanding and contracting, growing into fullness then releasing into something new. Indigenous people carry this wisdom, as do farmers, and fishermen, and anyone whose livelihood is linked to the earth. Black Elk, a Native American, described it this way, You have noticed everything an Indian does is in a circle, and that is because the power of the world always works in circles…even the seasons form a great circle in their changing and always come back again to where they were…
About a month after the blue moon experience, a lunar eclipse occurred while I was staying at the Jesuit retreat center near Sedalia, Colorado. Grassy hills surround the property in this rural setting and I was able to walk to a ridge nearby that allowed me to watch the sun set in the west then turn 180 degrees and watch the moon rise in the east. The actual eclipse took hours to come into fullness so I walked back to the retreat house where a hammock offered the perfect place to sit and wait. In the dusk of the evening I could make out the silhouettes of other retreatants scattered across the lawn, each of us silently and reverently watching the moon, as if it held some magical power that captivated us all – we knew it was unlikely we would see this event again in our lifetime. To wait, to watch, and to notice as the cosmic dance unfolded felt like a prayer. Nothing else was required other than to acknowledge the wonder.
It also felt like an invitation to wait, to watch, and to notice the subtle daily, monthly, and yearly cycles that surround me. Being a monk it the world can be as simple as reconnecting with the cycles of the earth and honoring them with my attention – gazing out my window as the sun rises in the morning, savoring the rich colors of fall leaves as I drive across town, listening to the hoot of the owl as I take my morning walk. Right now I am particularly drawn to the lunar cycle and the subtle yet powerful way it influences the dynamics of the ocean, the fish, the magnetic field, and even childbirth. I am reminded that my life is cyclical as well and follows a larger and universal pattern that is constantly moving and changing. It calms me down as I navigate the new seasons of my life and helps me to trust that letting go is a natural part of the circle and energy of life as it comes into fullness, then fades away, then returns once again full circle.
Anne Knorr is an architect, spiritual director and author of the book, Sacred Space at Home, Architecture with Soul. She has written and lectured about the connection between architecture and spirituality, and continues her practice as a residential architect and spiritual director. Anne lives in Boulder, Colorado.