In our local library they have a delightful children’s book called Owl Moon. It’s about a little girl and her daddy walking through the snow on a winter night to see an owl. Somewhere, in some city, a grown-up girl thinks about her daddy years ago bundling-up a little girl and making a memory while field on field of fresh snow reflected the moon’s luminous glow. She writes her memory down and adds full-color illustrations and thousands of us enjoy the walk with her. A wise man. A blessed little girl.
We have a tradition in our home. We call it the “moon walk,” but it’s not what you might think. It is not a dance step (we’re card-carrying Baptists and don’t go in for any kind of dancing. When I was a boy I would even get a note to excuse me from square dancing in gym class. The first Baptist preacher, John the Baptist, lost his head at a dance so, you see, we Baptists have a healthy aversion to them). The deal is, I promised the kids that on full-moon nights they don’t have to go to bed until I take them on a walk by the light of the moon. They love this tradition. I love it more.
It started years ago on a cool fall night when Yoder, our beagle, now gone to his dogie reward, was just a tiny pup. It was a Saturday night and I picked up my walking stick to go out into the night and pray and prepare my heart for the Lord’s day. Kyle asked to go along. Yoder insisted on coming to. The moon was big and bright and the air cool. We walked past tall corn ripening for harvest along a wide grassy waterway. We talked to the Lord as we walked. We followed a lane cut through a wood like a dark tunnel shaded from the moonlight. It opened into an arch of misty light at the other end.
I made the comment on the way back to the house, “We ought to take a walk every time there is a full moon.” That was it. Now it’s set in concrete. Law of the Meads and Persians. Buckeye tradition, like Carmen Ohio, On Down the Field and Sloopy Hang On. The whole crew goes. Kyle, Holly, Chuck, “Grace”, “Ruth”, Dan, Ginger the Golden Dog and Kitty the Yellow Cat that used to be the Boucher’s.
A couple months ago we walked back the long lane across the road to discover our delightful neighbors. They insisted on showing us around their modest but beautifully well-kept farm and then “forced” us to gather around their big oak table and enjoy ice cream and strawberries with generous seconds. They were good, country people. A couple hours later we said our good-byes and sauntered back home in the cool mid-summer night.
When dozens of things that we spent hundreds of dollars on are long forgotten, we will all still remember our moon walks. King’s Island and Cedar Point don’t have anything like that. I have a snapshot in the album of my memory of a path of light cast by the moon on a surface of a mountain lake a few years ago.
I think the reason we love our walks so much is simply because we love being together. I love to be with the children. And most of all I love it that they love to be with me, talking quietly or just walking along in sweet quietness until the sounds of the night calm our spirits. Usually we just tramp along pulling cool night air into our lungs. On our moon walks words aren’t always needed to communicate.
The music of a spring leaping from a hillside in the springtime. Cricket and frog duets in the summer. Leaves crumpling underfoot in the fall. The crunch of frozen ground in winter. The wind blowing across an open field. Stirring in the leaves of a big Oak beside the road. A plane droning it’s way across the vast night sky The lonely sound of a truck grinding its way across the valley. Walking sticks tapping on the road. Blinking fireflies. The perfume of new-mown hay.
But these little delights are extras. The real joy of it is being with those we love. Listening to each other and listening with each other. I love to be with them and I love it that they love to be with me. And sometimes on our night walks I peer into the endless night sky past a thousand stars and out into the place where God dwells alone and I am awed that He loves to be with me and that he loves it that I love to be with Him!
“Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.” (Revelation 4:11).
O LORD, our Lord, How excellent [is] Your name in all the earth, Who have set Your glory above the heavens! When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, The moon and the stars, which You have ordained, What is man that You are mindful of him, And the son of man that You visit him? O LORD, our Lord, How excellent [is] Your name in all the earth! (Psalm 8).