Throughout human history nightfall has been a time of mixed feelings. While we experience relief as we lie down to rest from our labors, apprehension lurks and the creatures of the night begin to move about their dark domain.
Darkness can bring cooling breezes that dispel the heat of the day, or bone chilling cold that can end a life. Darkness can be so complete and deep that it feels as if it could smother us, yet on a moonlit night, there is a certain magic that works its way across the nightscape and into our souls.
Oddly enough winter is the season when I feel the magic of the night most powerfully. In summer the moonlight is often largely obscured by the heavy forest canopy that surrounds our house. In winter when the leaves have long since fallen and lie beneath a blank of white, the moonlight is everywhere, enabling a view hundreds of feet in all directions.
Light sparkles and reflects off snow banks and frosty twigs, silhouetting the deer as they browse, and speaking of the ever present struggle for survival. The trees are tall and stout sentinels with every twig and branch starkly revealed in the silvery light.
These trees have grown for decades or even a hundred years or more, out competing scores of other trees for the life sustaining sunlight. On this moonlit winter night, the trees speak to me by casting their long shadows across the snow.
At first glance the scene appears austere, timeless and unchanging. But as I stand transfixed, the black shadows move across the landscape as the moon travels across the sky. Slowly, inexorably the shadows march in unison, speaking softly to me of all that has been since time began. The more I watch the night shadows come alive, calling incessantly for me to own my connection to the ancient past, and the eons yet to come, the more I sense the spirit of all humankind.
Just as surely as the night shadows move across the forest floor, I hear the silence speaking to me of ancestors I never knew who in ancient times spread out across uncharted lands and seas. I hear the whisper of great people yet unborn who will create beauty, discover mysteries and lead mankind into the unknown future.
All this I see outside my window this chilly winter night as the waxing moon makes its way across the night sky, casting night shadows, speaking softly.