It had been the sweetest day spent with some of my beloved ones. As our time together was coming to an end, a child whom I adore noticed the bright, full moon outside my east-facing windows.
“Oh, look!” she said. “The moon! Can we go outside and look at it?”
A full counter of dishes begged to argue, but impossible as it is to say ‘no’ to her, I slipped on my boots, swung her up into the crook of my arm, wrapped a blanket around our collective shoulders, and ventured into the backyard. I walked slowly as I carried her, our faces close as we talked about the brilliant orb that seemed to float above the trees.
Not quite three years old, she had just begun articulating her notice of such things. As we walked, she told me that the night before, she had seen the moon through her sister’s bedroom window just before bedtime, and then, when she woke up, she had seen it outside her window. She excitedly explained that her momma said it was the same moon and that it traveled during the night. She was fascinated to see it in my backyard too. We continued to talk and wonder together as my Wellies crunched through the late-winter snow, wrapping the blanket tightly to ward against the chill. Finally, the cold seeped through the yarn of the blanket, and we returned to the house.
Later, as they were preparing to leave, she reached her pajama-clad arms around my neck, kissed me on the cheek, looked into my eyes, and said, “Thank you for the moon.”
My heart nearly burst with the sweetness of it.
“Thank you for the moon.”
How easy it is for us to give someone the moon–or for one sweet soul to give it back to us. It could have just as easily not happened that night. I might have continued cleaning the kitchen, or explained that it was too cold, or distracted her with a book–all possibilities that may have happened on another evening. Lord knows, I am not above dismissing and missing moments of potential. But on that evening, an inkling moved me to respond to her request, and from that came for me the dearest of moments and a glow that will likely surface with each full moon until my days are done.
Since that night, I have noticed several such moments. Moments when an easy expression or act on my part led to the gift of another’s gratitude. Gratitude because the simple pittance of presence, or impulse, or effort offered during a particular moment was just the thing they had needed.
The Spirit is good that way. I am discovering this as I learn to engage inklings.
So often, we imagine that our offerings must involve significant sacrifice in order to matter. That our contribution of funds, or time, or energy, or wisdom must involve great surrender and cost–a laying down of our lives, so to speak.To be sure, there are times when this is asked of us, and obedience is necessary. Yet more often, the Spirit asks for simple things, easy things.
These moments are reminders that a nondescript text of encouragement, a quick email of information helpful to a friend or colleague, or a simple walk around the backyard after dark can provide a turning point for another.
“Thank you for the moon.”
It took all of ten minutes, the slipping on of boots, a few shivers, and my full attention. It cost me nothing in the grand scheme of the day. But oh, the gift.
For her, the memory will fade into one of a million moments she is absorbing about life in this world. It will be a blur if it even emerges at all, and that is okay. She and I are building a foundation.
For me, though, the gift of the moon that night saved a part of me. The part that was striving too hard, imagining too big, and feeling too overwhelmed by it all. It was a reminder of my call to simple service; to listening in the moment; to tend to that which is right in front of me. It served to lift my gaze to the sky, to notice, and to wonder.
The pittance of presence is a small price to pay for the gift of the moon.
Jill English is an avid encourager of humans and lover of words. She is most at home out-of-doors, and in particular, while walking any beach. Her most magical moments involve being Grammy to two remarkable grandchildren, and Mom to their lucky parents. As a discerner of call in higher theological education, her favorite conversations involve connecting the sacred dots of everyday life and faith. Jill lives in Grand Rapids, MI with two small, elderly pups.