Good Friday morning ...
Most probably you missed it! It wasn't a big deal! There wasn't a lot of flag-waving fanfare. It wasn't in the breaking news of the day nor was it a headline in the morning newspaper. And though it may have been mentioned in passing on the evening weather forecast ... most of us probably paid little attention ... if any.
It was an event that took place on October 5th (officially at 2:40pm). It didn't get a lot of attention, occuring, as it did, in mid-afternoon, but it lingered for several days afterward. And as it lingered ... I took note. That's because, since 1972, I always take note of a full moon and this one in particular, because it was the Harvest Moon ... the first full moon after the Fall Equinox.
The year 1972 is significant because it was during that year, after the Harvest Moon, that Mrs. Carpenter and I had THE TALK.
Mrs. Alden Carpenter was an excentric, ninety-year old woman of considerable means who lived on the North Shore of Massachusetts in a thirty-three room mansion with her spinster cook and housemaid, sisters Mary and Kate. At the time, I lived with my small family in a very substantial carriage house on the estate while attending seminary in nearby South Hamilton. I worked for Mrs. Carpenter as her chauffeur, gardener and general handy-man. Since she only lived in the house six months of the year (the other six in a residence in Majorca, Spain), it was a great job for me while a full time student.
Mrs. Carpenter, though excentric, was a very smart lady. Well-educated, well-read and very cozy with the likes of Adlai Stevenson III (US Congressman and grandson of the former Vice President of the US)) ... she was very interested in politics and frequently held Sunday afternoon parties with local and national politicos to discuss current events and pressing issues facing the world. Of particular interest to her was the need to rewrite the Charter of the United Nations. She believed it was outdated, having been written at the end of World War II and needed to be revised to include modern-day issues. I have to say, she was correct.
THE TALK I had with Mrs. Carpenter was about the moon!
We stood in the early evening on her front stoop overlooking the tree tops that led down to Beverly Cove on which her estate was located. The Harvest Moon shone in the eastern sky. Mrs. Carpenter wouldn't look at it! She positioned her back to the rising moon as we talked.
In her mind, the moon had been desecrated by American astronauts landing on its surface, driving a lunar vehicle and walking over its terrain, hitting a golf ball over its plains, and even planting an American flag in its dust. This was an abomination to Mrs. Carpenter!
Here was an elderly woman born shortly after the Civil War ... a woman who was living during the Spanish American War, World War I, World War II, the Korean War and the Viet Nam War ... a woman who was living when the automobile was first invented and mass-produced ... a woman who was living when the first man took flight at Kitty Hawk, NC ... a woman who had accustomed herself to watching television, but preferred the radio ... a woman who had been on a transatlantic aircraft, but who preferred the seven-day crossing of an ocean liner.
An educated, sophisticated woman who knew neither how to sew on a button, cook a meal or iron a dress ... one far above my status in life, yet she was talking to me about the moon!
She was insulted by man's intrusion on such sacred territory. She could not fathom our arrogance in "conquering" outer space (Didn't we have enough problems on earth with which to contend?) She was troubled by our invasion of holy ground, "where God dwells," and where we had no business going.
Tears welled in her eyes that fall evening, when from under the canopy of her front stoop, she fashioned a glance at the Harvest Moon and quickly turned away in disgust and began her twenty-minute tirade. It was an emotional moment in which she expressed her very passionate opinion. I have a distinct feeling she would still not have been happy (even if she have lived to the age of 133) to have seen that gigantic ball of white hanging in the nighttime sky last October 5th.
But you know what? Looking at that Harvest Moon earlier this month somehow meant more to me this year than in the past. Not only is it a reminder of God's presence and power and purpose in a very troubled world ... but somewhere on that moon's surface an American flag is planted, still waving in the idle atmosphere, heralding to the universe the rights and freedoms of the humbled citizens of the United States of America.
I can't help but think that PERHAPS that knowledge would have made Mrs. Carpenter feel better, especially in light of what has happened to the United States in the past few decades, and maybe ... just maybe ... she might have felt a tinge of American pride!
Blessings on your weekend ... and God bless America!