I went to see Luke Jerram’s art installation ‘Museum of the Moon’ a few days ago at the Anglican Cathedral in Liverpool. It’s been touring all over the world. If you’ve not seen it, it’s basically a huge model of the moon, seven meters across, that uses detailed NASA imagery to recreate its surface and it is suspended in beautiful, dramatic spaces with evocative lighting and soundscapes.
It was the final day of the exhibition and so the Cathedral was understandably packed as people took their last chance to see it. At first I was disappointed by this, I felt a sense of loss that I wasn’t able to experience it in a calm, peaceful atmosphere. But the longer I was there, the more I came to appreciate the moment just as it was and the more it helped me to fully understand how the moon, and this model of it, encapsulates so much of what mindfulness is all about.
Firstly, there was such a profound sense of embodiment. The draw, the attraction for everyone milling around, from the tiny toddlers to their great-grandparents, was its physicality, its presence in the space, its actuality. This moon was there, fully there, it was a gentle being that drew us close. This in itself was enough to bring a tear to my eye and somehow the fact that there were so many people only helped to reinforce the sense of pure stillness that the moon bestowed.
But beyond that I also saw within the moon an incredible sense of acceptance and allowing. Along with many others I spent some time lying beneath the moon gazing up at its underbelly, amazed and awed by the sheer number of craters and markings of each meteor that had knocked and crashed into it over millennia. The detail and lighting of the moon was such that there was a real 3 D effect and this instilled a sense of how the surface might look if you were there. Every mountain and valley, every ravine and plain. I was struck by how the moon had simply accepted and taken each of these knocks, there were no atmospheric barriers to protect it, it was open and allowing. Each scar was simply there on the surface, enhancing its beauty and its mystery whilst not detracting from its inner being, its core, which remained unaffected.
Standing further back I was able to get a more panoramic view and I was blessed to be present as light cascaded in from one of the grand, arched, stained glass windows scattering a rainbow of colours across the moon’s surface. The sheer beauty of this filled me with such joy and seemed to act as a balance to the craters and markings as an expression of the way the moon allows not just the knocks of life to be present but, of course, the lightness and radiance too.
The response and reactions of those around me, the way the moon seemed to evoke such wonder and love and tenderness reminded me of the way in which the moon is so fully engaged and present in each moment. It is constantly making its impact felt as it circles its way around our blue planet affecting the fundamental elements of all life from the ocean tides to helping to stabilise the Earth’s orbit. And it seems to find its way into the soul of every culture, guiding and inspiring poets, artists, healers, musicians, spiritual seekers, philosophers, scientists and explorers alike.
So now when I look up at the moon with gratitude and appreciation as she glides her silvery path across the sky, I know I will be reminded of my own mindfulness practice and will look to the moon as a model of that place that resides deep within us all.
Fiona Brannigan is a member of the Mindfulness Association, as well as a student on the MSc: Studies in Mindfulness.
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