Listening to Sacred Stillness: The Stillness of a Full Moon

Listening to Sacred Stillness: The Stillness of a Full Moon October 11, 2022

Listening to Sacred Stillness: The Stillness of a Full Moon

The Stillness of a Full Moon

Once each month, a full moon hangs in the night sky.

This month the Hunter’s Moon is often brighter and more orange than usual. Last month was the Harvest Moon, the full moon closest to the autumnal equinox.

It can be easy for us to forget our idea of a “month” comes to us from the moon. Not all months have the same number of days because the path of the moon is not exactly even. We lose track of how the moon, the stars, and the sun control our schedules.

Looking up into the night sky reminds us of truths which are easy for us to forget.

We like to think our lives are stable and sturdy and we have both feet on solid ground. Some of us see ourselves as the center of our own universe.

Each month’s full moon helps us remember we are whirling through space. The space all around us is filled with stars and planets and moons, all whirling around.

We watch the lights and darkness in the night sky dance in their patterns, each taking their own steps. The dance reminds us of all we take for granted, to which we do not give our attention.

It is not possible for us to control, or even understand, the lights and darkness in the night sky. Some of us can begin to appreciate the intricacies and wonders of the dances we watch.

The dances, the night sky, and the full moon are beautiful because they are beyond what we can do. Light from distant suns, including our own, create patterns in the night sky.

We look up and pay homage to what we see.

The Full Moon Lights Our Way

Some of us try to go out each month to see the full moon. We may live in a place where the artificial lights of our city do not allow us to see the night sky.

There are months when clouds block our view, or months when we get too busy to go out and offer our attention.

We do not seem to have as much time for watching the full moon as we used to have. I remember when I was a child I would go outdoors after dark just to look up into the sky. My father tried to show me the constellations, but my eyesight was not particularly good even then.

My interest in looking up into the night sky was not about learning the names or locations of everything. I was not particularly interested in mapping or organizing the sky.

What drew me out into the darkness was how vast the sky was. It was immense and incredibly far away while it felt like I could reach up and touch the stars.

Now it almost feels like a nuisance to step outside and look up into the night sky. We seem to have too many other things we need to do. Sometimes we are comfortable and it is inconvenient to rouse ourselves and look into the sky. Other times we have places we need to be and are driving to get there.

The sky does not seem to draw us the way it did. We may have become better at resisting its temptations. Or we might have forgotten what it has to offer us.

It can feel like we have lost our focus on the full moon. We pay so much attention to what is on the screens in our hands we forget to look up into the sky.

Listening to the Full Moon

The practice of being open to the full moon is close to the heart of contemplative practices.

There is so much I want to read, to write, to experience, to accomplish. It takes time for me to realize how tired my body, my mind, my spirit can be.

We struggle to get quiet, to stop being distracted, and listen to stillness.

Listening to sacred stillness is often when hidden nuggets of pain demand our attention. We may have forgotten them throughout the day. The full moon reminds us.

Outside, the full moon, obscured all day, shines in the darkness. Opening our hearts and our hands, once each month, we can almost touch it.

We take time to listen, to pay unfocused attention, to be open to sacred stillness. Slowly we begin to unclench our fists and relax our backs. Some of us take deep breaths or crack our knuckles.

Listening, we allow sacred stillness to flow into us and help heal us.

We practice taking time to look up into the night sky and see each month’s full moon. Without making a sound, the moon floods our lives with reflected light.

The Full Moon in the Night Sky

The night sky is filled with wonders which spark our reflection and our imaginations. The full moon and the stars, meteor showers and planets, and the darkness itself.

Looking into the sky at night reminds me of spiritual life. For as long as I can remember I have looked up to see what I could see.

We are not able to see the lights in the sky when they are obscured by artificial lights, or daylight. They are still there, even when we are cannot see them.

The lights in the sky show us our place in the universe, on the earth, and within ourselves. They help us navigate spiritual life as well as our everyday lives.

Stars we see in the night sky are far from us. In their light, even traveling toward us at the speed of light, we see events which happened years ago.

We look up into the night sky and see things which happened before we were born.

Even the full moon, which is closer to us, shows us something larger than we are.

What do we see when we look up to see the full moon each month?

How will we practice paying attention to the full moon next month?

[Image by lrargerich]

Greg Richardson is a spiritual director in Southern California. He is a recovering assistant district attorney and associate university professor, and is a lay Oblate with New Camaldoli Hermitage near Big Sur, California. Greg’s website is and his email address is

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