“Hey Daddy! I’m pretty sure that the moon is blue.”
The two urchins were holding open the front screen door and looking up hopefully at the sky.
“Please be blue–Please be blue,” the younger one whispered again and again, under his breath.
Dad crossed the concrete floor of the porch and gazed up at the brilliant full moon. He stood for a moment in thoughtful consideration, aware that the two lads were considering his face with the same rapt attention he was feigning as he looked upward.
“I think…” he stopped and looked down at the boys. “I think…that it might just be blue!”
A grin crossed his face, just about the time that the same grin split the faces of both boys. There was even a sound of joy that came from someone inside the house at the pronouncement. A blue moon was something to celebrate at the house in which they grew up!
|Photo by halfrain|
Moments later, they were all stuffed into the old 1957 Ford station wagon and were headed to the local pizza parlor for a rare treat. Unlike the age in which we live, there was not a franchised pizza place on every corner. The people of our parent’s generation didn’t care much for pizza and it was certainly not high up on this father’s list of favorite places to dine. Thus, the concern for the blue moon among the children. A chance statement, taken too literally and turned into family lore, became the decisive factor on every occasion when someone asked for pizza.
“I’m only going to eat pizza once in a blue moon,” was what the dad had uttered on that fateful day in the distant past.
It was slim, but it was hope and the kids latched onto it, nurtured it, and played it for all it was worth, watching the sky for just such a moon as had appeared on that night. The pizza was wonderful!
My thoughts went back to that era in life earlier today as I realized that we actually have a genuine blue moon to celebrate this month. Although the term blue moon is commonly understood today to describe the second full moon in one month, that is a relatively recent definition for the term. It originally meant the extra full moon in a season (e.g., spring or summer), which should normally have just three of them. When there is an extra “third” full moon, it was called a blue moon. Today (August 20th) is the day we will see that phenomenon occur.
I looked out as I was writing this and the moon is already nearly full and very bright–so bright that, were my eyes a bit younger, I believe I could read outside by its light. As I walked into the rays of the brilliant light I cast a shadow, distinct and dark, upon the sidewalk. What a beautiful sight as the moon revolves in the sky around this huge orb and reflects the sun’s rays back to us throughout the dim night. It’s not a world-shaking event, but I’m enjoying having a second “third” full moon up in the night sky above.
I could even go for pizza.
The description of this extra full moon, the “blue moon”, is actually a little obscure in its origins. It is speculated that the name comes from a time when the clergymen in the Catholic church were responsible for determining if the new moon in the Spring was the “Easter moon”, which meant that the people could conclude their Lenten fasting, or if the moon was a “belewe”, or betrayer, moon which would force them to fast for another month. The phrase first came to light in the sixteenth century as one author bemoaned the fact that they had to depend on the clergy to tell them if the moon were “belewe”. Only in the last century has the title come to mean the second full moon in a month. And, of course, we use the entire phrase, once in a blue moon to mean any event which is rare in its occurrence.
I pause for a moment and consider that I have done it to you again.
I have spent way too much time following a rabbit trail up which few of you will want to venture with me. I love word origins and want to illuminate the meaning of common phrases, but I realize that many of you do not share that curiosity. But, if you’re still tagging along anyway, why not go just a bit further?
The young boys, just as the medieval masses, were dependent upon the judgement of someone in authority to determine the moment at which they could end their fast and enjoy the food they desired. Five hundred years after the priests declared that the correct moon was in the sky, their father did much the same thing.
As all of them gazed up at the moon, hope rose in their hearts.
Those boys don’t depend on the moon to tell them when it’s time to eat pizza anymore. Most folks in the church don’t depend on the moon to end their fasting, either. That said, we all have something upon which we are pinning our hopes. I know people who hope in their chances at winning the lottery or even the games of chance at the casino for financial security. Some trust in their own intellect or physical prowess for success, others in presidents and legislatures for peace and well-being.
Every one of those finite entities is unreliable and will disappoint eventually. What a disheartening thing it is to have your hopes dashed again and again by trusting in the wrong thing.
I see that it’s time to step down from my soap box and let you take it from here. Consider though, that there is One in whom hope may be placed, an unmovable Rock, who brings an unshakable kingdom.
There’s no guesswork about blue moons with Him, but simply a place you can rest and trust.
Oh! Just to clarify–I don’t wait for the changing moon to eat pizza, either. Once in a blue moon? That’s when we eat asparagus around here.
“When the moon hits your eye
Like a big pizza pie, that’s amore.”
(“That’s Amore”~Harry Warren/Jack Brooks)
“Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.”