My favorite holiday is that of the Oriental Mid-Autumn Festival, also known as the Moon Festival, which is occurring in a few days on September 15. The Moon Festival has been celebrated in Asian countries for at least 3,000 years. In September of each year the moon comes closest to the earth, which makes it the brightest and most beautiful lunar spectacle of the year. If you’re the sort of person who is always trying to find ways to bring beauty into your life, you need to make some time in your life to commune with the moon.
I always celebrate my lunar festival with a nice pot of tea (Lapsang Souchong for me this year), and some treats. Traditionally at their Moon Festivals the Chinese would consume mooncakes made with sugar, egg yolks and lard, which sound about as delectable as boiled suet pudding. Here in the 21st century we could do with something a little less stolid. This year I’m planning on frozen peach yogurt (homemade of course), along with the tea. All of which will be a perfect accompaniment to the anticipated lunar enchantment. And the enchantment is what matters. You can never get enough of the moon. If you are the sort of person who never bothers to notice the moon, or meditate with the moon, or absorb the moon’s energies into your being, you have my sympathy. You don’t know what you’re missing. Contemplation of the moon’s enchanted glow can give us one of the most sublime sensations we can experience in our lives.
But is that supposed to matter? What the heck are you supposed to get out of this, anyway? Some kind of stupendous mystical revelation from all that moonlight getting shoved into your eyes? Well, British poet Gerard Manley Hopkins believed that if you look at something with enough careful attention, you will sense that it is gazing back. Said he: “What you look hard at seems to look hard at you.” Good mystical visionary that Hopkins was, he would have been able to tell is whether or not something non-human was actually gazing back at him.
All of which means that if you actually do make some time in your life to
gaze at the moon with care and attention, then …