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I See the Moon

By Catherine Arveseth

It is 11:38 PM and I am still picking up the house, moving laundry, examining the calendar for tomorrow. I’m desperate to slip into my pajamas and sit down. Can’t remember the last time I’ve gone to bed before 11:30. Madeleine L’Engle called this season, the “tired thirties” and boy was she right. Unfortunately, I’m on the cusp of 40, and the next decade is looking just as dubious. L’Engle writes,

“I was always tired. So was Hugh. During the decade between thirty and forty, most couples are raising small children, and we were no exception. Hugh was struggling to support his growing family… And there was I, absolutely stuck in bucology, with the washing machine freezing at least once a week, the kitchen never above 55 degrees when the wind blew from the northwest, not able to write until after my little ones were in bed, by which time I was so tired that I often quite literally fell asleep with my head on the typewriter.”

So there she sat, one of the most creative writers of our time, a woman whose words and soul have been like manna to me on certain days, asleep at her desk. And I am siting here, hunched over my keyboard, finding this whole effort of trying to string words, ridiculous. My eyes keep closing. Something that happens now when I sit down. I told my husband recently that I’ve adapted the old commercial quip from, “I’ve fallen! And I can’t get up!” to “I’ve sat down. And I can’t get up!”

And yet, as much as I want to pull on my cotton jersey pants, I yearn to create something, write something, piece a pattern of words that might mean something to someone besides myself. And it’s frustrating, day after day, to never have the time for it. The brain for it. Or the energy.

I’m fading fast. So I leave the computer and head upstairs to my twin girls’ bedroom. I turn the door quietly and return a lost doll to her cradle. As I pull Ali’s covers over her, I notice the moonlight, liquid blue, rolling in waves across her hands. I flick the blind slats and peer through the window to find the source, big and beaming, sailing over the mountain, illuminating the clouds below.


The moon has a pull, a gravitational one that guides the tides, but also a pull on my heart. Whatever the stage – waxing gibbous, waning crescent, new, or full – she grounds me. I think it’s her transformative nature – always changing, but always predictable. Able to work through a number of shifting faces, but always beautiful. I want to be like her.

I step outside for a better view. The spiders have already spun their threads, and as I cross the porch I have to brush their silk from my arms. I walk out into the street until the moon is fully revealed. An orb of pure white, no longer filtered through sycamore leaves. She has touched a fleet of clouds to the west. Lit them from the edges in. And they are so radiant I can see their thickness, gauge how quickly they are moving cross the sky.

It feels so good to stop. To stand in one place. Unmoved. Alone. Looking up.

Summer has been all-consuming. I’ve done too little stopping. With my five loves at home, banging the glass door as they run in and out, our daily lopes to the pool for lessons, the reunions, the late nights, the constant need for food, the crafts, the chores, the math drills, the friends, the reading. There have been so few pauses.

And maybe that’s why it took such little stillness to fill me.

I heard the crickets singing. A warm breeze brushed my cheek and rustled through the bushes. The whole sensory experience of standing in the quiet, feeling like mine was the only face the moon could see, gave me a sense of peace that swelled my insides; soothed me, right to the center of my rattled, heavy chest.

It was one deep breath in the moonlight. A few seconds of silence at the end of a day that never stopped whirring. A moment of feeling known. And I thought to myself, Madeleine is pretty good company to keep. This is the life I made for myself. The season. In all its glorious consumption. Of course I am tired.

But I am mighty, mighty blessed.

What season are you in? Do you identify with wanting to create something? Does stillness often elude you and where/how do you find it?

About Catherine Arveseth

Catherine Arveseth is mother to five children, including two sets of twins. She is an exercise physiologist by profession, writer by passion, loves hiking with her family, oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, and the edge of an ocean. She and her husband, Doug, began their family in Virginia but now live in Salt Lake City, Utah. She blogs at wildnprecious.com.

25 thoughts on “I See the Moon”

  1. I've just crashed after months of high stress and busyness. My body said STOP, and gave me strep and a kidney infection. I always thought that my 40's, with all adult children, would be calm and so much easier. Hahahaha ha. The other day as I was driving home, feeling bad that I just couldn't do all that needed to be done, I looked up at the sky and the most lovely cloud was just hanging there. Waiting for me to notice it. Clouds are my thing – God's way of saying to me "it's ok, I love you." I needed that reprieve. We all need to slow down and notice the beauty all around us.

    Thanks for writing this. I will try to remember the lovely things that surround us.

  2. somehow if i could see the holiness of each day…
    maybe that is a gift that comes from always having a prayer in your heart. somehow those years of weary bone-tired work yielded a humility. knowing that the task was much too much for only me.
    that said…
    i long to repeat just one of those days. anyone would do.
    i love you cath. xox

  3. Last night the bright light from the moon kept me awake. I was partly annoyed and partly in awe that it was bright enough to light up my bedroom. I should have spent a little more time enjoying the peace and silence of the moment. My life doesn't feel like it has enough pauses right now–I work full-time and have three small children. When I read writing from wise people like L'Engle, I have faith that this time in my life will soon pass. I won't always be this tired, and I may even miss it when the moment is gone. Thanks for the reminder to find the pauses and to take time for stillness.

  4. Carie Ann – bless you.

    Magpie – Isn't it beautiful how we can each have our "thing?" Like clouds. And the moon. I hope you are feeling better! Yes, sometimes our bodies do the stopping for us. Sending you healthy good wishes. And it's helpful to know I ought not to have unrealistic expectations for my 40s. 😉 Thx.

    Cristie – "somehow those years of weary bone-tired work yielded a humility. knowing that the task was much too much for only me." Oh how I hear you. How I understand. I know you'd repeat any one of those days. You're my hero. I love you.

    Jessie – Of course your life doesn't feel like it has any pauses. I'm amazed at the balls you are juggling, the way you are holding it together. Keep on. You're a marvel and a blessing to many. Especially your children. xoxo

  5. This was so beautiful. I loved it even more with your discussion of Madeleine L'Engle, one of my favorite authors. (Have you ever read The Small Rain? If not I highly recommend it). Thank you for this!

  6. Good Morning Catherine……..thank you so much for writing and sharing. Right now it is that connectedness that i feel. It's a wonder that we all noticed that moon in one way or another. I love the way it unites all of us. Your words filled me with gratitude and reminds me we are not alone. You caught me catching inspiring stories on BYU Broadcasting's Turning Point while bustling in and out of the house picking cucumbers, peppers, weeding between the rows of newly planted radishes, spinach, beets and leeks, deciding spraying the windows with water is much easier than wiping them, going crazy with the water to rinse and clean the dirt from our drive and sidewalks and then coming in to read your lovely post. I just love you! Time doesn't slow down….it just shifts as the moon and it is up to us to take a minute and soak up the moments and capture them. You do it so well! And then you share them! Bless your heart!

  7. Cath – beautiful. Also cherish the tiredness from having loved your family. On days when I feel good enough to do all that "stuff" for them, I feel so grateful. I'm having to do too much stopping and I miss being bone tired in that family way. You are an inspiration to me.

  8. Wow, I really enjoyed this to the utmost! it was as though I was feeling your ever word. Although I'm 64 I could relate…. the other day August 21,2013 was out with my daughters, and love looking up at the sky! And what I saw is beautiful clouds like what you saw looking at the moon… good feeling and wonderful thoughts! I love to watch the moon as well, however if i'm not out late , hardly get to view it…I enjoyed what I read and look forward to reading more at a later time. Thanks for sharing!

  9. Lovely. I am acquainted with my own busy stretch and can see just enough ahead to know things aren't calming down anytime soon, only ratcheting up a few more notches in the years ahead.

    And yet in the midst of it all, I too am longing to create: something tangible, something lasting, something for myself and a few others.

    Currently I am realizing I have to wake up for that stillness. If I am willing to drag myself out of bed I can go out walking or jogging, stretch, catch some reading or writing time and a bit of solitude before the sun comes up and the demands on me begin. But reminding myself that is important and I am not too tired is so hard some days. But, you are right, if I am in Madeleine's company and yours as well- this is a fine and productive, but busy season.

  10. Sometimes I love to look at the moon and realize that those we love….no matter where they are can look at the same moon. It somehow connects us. I love your thoughts!!


  11. Oh I loved this! Thanks so much for writing it! I love the moon too. I love stopping and stillness, even though I don't do it as often as I need to, when I have piles of work waiting for me around every corner, needing me to be productive but not necessarily creative. But things like the moon or clotheslines help fill me up too. I just got one (a clothesline) and have found a similar restorative power in it. (Which shocked the heck out of me!) A friend said hanging her laundry is her "daily meditation". That's what I have found too–as I hang the damp clothes and have time to think and be still. I think I need to go outside and look at the moon for awhile tonight too! 🙂

  12. What a lovely piece! Though my children are now grown, I still remember that ever present fatigue and the sense that I would never, ever be able to string words together–even when I needed to for my day job as a journalist. Now the stringing comes more easily, in bigger swaths, but I still need some regular moon time to get beyond the day's details and into my own creative space. Thanks for sharing your world.

  13. Dearest Cath, this is stunningly beautiful. Thank you for it. What a gift you have. How I love your heart. You have given so much of your soul and heart and body to raising those little ones. I think God has been teaching me the art of trusting in seasons, in ebbs and flows, in cycles, in watching periods of abundance and periods of want in life, all while learning to trust that He is enough. He fills in the gaps. He is the same through each and every stage and change. And, I have realized there is a core in me that is unchanging too.

    To reply to one of your questions above, I have discovered the stillness that comes from meditating. I started a daily, serious, 25-minute meditation routine 4 months ago when I discovered a simple book about meditation called Real Happiness. It has revolutionized my ability to be grounded and present in more of my daily moments. I have re-discovered the art of intense prayer….something I regularly practiced before the dawning of the digital age and had lost at some point.

    I love you and thank you for taking the time to weave these thoughts together. xo

  14. One last thing….go gentle with yourself. I spent years and years of my life pushing through fatigue, and finally my body's signals could not be ignored any longer. I am trying to listen to the cues my body gives me and honor those in any way I can. Earlier in the week, I was throwing a birthday party for my 13-year-old son, and the day of the party, I was completely wiped out. The glow sticks he wanted for a game….I just wasn't up for getting them. I had nothing left in me to work on creating games like I usually do. I had the cake going in the oven hours late. The kitchen was a wreck when guests showed up. But, I just prayed through that whole day for God's help with the party. And, somehow He made it all work. It was truly the best kids' party I have ever thrown. The teens played musical chairs, charades, and partner tag and just talked. They had a great time….not because of me but because of God's blessings. God truly creates a state of enough-ness, whatever it is. I believe in that with all my heart.

  15. Sharlee – You are good company to keep as well. 🙂

    Lorren – No, I have not read The Small Rain. I just added it to my list. Thank you SO much for the recommendation.

    Liesa – I love the image of you tending to your garden and spraying down your window (I'd probably do the same!). Thank you so much for reading. Yes, Time Does Not Slow. I know you are right. So we carve out the moments. See the gift of it as sacred. Sure love you.

    Kristi – Oh my dear, sweet long-time friend. I can imagine how you must long for those bone-tired days (as you put it). I have tried putting myself in your shoes, wondered how in the world you keep functioning with so much uncertainty, discomfort, fatigue. YOU are the inspiration. Once my kids are back in school (after Labor Day), I am planning to come see you. Praying for you. xoxo

    Billie – I love reading your thoughts. Your faith is big as a mountain. Thank you for coming here today. Lots of love.

    Sandra – I know you know that desire. The need to create. It's in the bookends of the day that I can snatch a bit of stillness, as you mention. I hope your grandmother's memoir is coming along well. So sorry I missed you when you were here for Cristine's wedding. Sending love and energy your way. 😉

    Deb – I love that about the moon too. It does connect us. Beautiful thought. xo

    Ana of the nine – Loved thinking of you out pinning your laundry to a line, breathing fresh air, gathering thoughts. What a wonderful thing. Small but big joy. Thank you for sharing here.

    Allyson – thanks for reading.

    Kathryn – loved your comment, your season. Thank you. Yes, even when life is less demanding, we all need a muse, a connection, a moon. Lovely.

    Anne Marie – your son's birthday party sounds exceptional! Because of your faith and dependence – your ability to let God make it more than you could. I need to learn from you, from that way of living. So unburdened and free. Maybe a prayer in the heart, as Cristie wrote about and you exemplified, allows for such connection and assistance from God. I wish you wrote daily. So I could hang onto your words – your faith. This I love: "God truly creates a state of enough-ness, whatever it is." I know you are right. And I'd love to hear more about your practice of meditation. I know there is merit in it. Love you dearly Anne Marie. I've missed your words.

  16. And Ana of the nine – I adore L'Engle's Crosswick journals. Every one of them. For different reasons. The paragraph I quoted in this post is from Circle of Quiet (couldn't cite the page number because I loaned it out!) And Lorren (above) recommended The Small Rain, which looks excellent as well!

  17. Cath, I loved this.

    In the last few years I have fallen asleep on computer keys, piano keys, and unfolded laundry. My mom used to crawl up the stairs to bed, she was so tired, and we thought it was funny. Now I don't think it's at all funny. It's a little tragic and a little familiar. (OK, I guess it is a LITTLE funny.)

    I don't see getting any less tired. This teenager thing means I don't get alone time at night and this teaching thing means I'm getting up before 6 every day. I need to ask Heavenly Father for more strength, for more wisdom, and for the ability to leave the teenage party and go to bed on time.

    (I love the Crosswick Journals, too, but need to return to them. It has been years since I last read them.)

  18. Right now the stillness finds me when my daughter is drowsily breastfeeding and I'm looking at her beautiful face.

    And yet "Create" is on my daily to-do list. Sometimes it's just a row or two of knitting that gets done. Some times I can write an essay of thoughts. And on occasion I can make major progress on a quilt. Depending, of course, on how long that little one decides to nap for. 🙂

    Thank you for this. It was a breath of stillness for my soul.

  19. Madeline L'Engle came to BYU and I followed her around all day trying to soak up some of her wisdom. I had my copy of A Wrinkle in Time with me (which says something about me) and she signed it "Tesser well, Sage." I treasure that!

    And this essay is beautiful and wise. The moon kept me awake as I was driving home late the 21st, from Lindon to St. George. I looked to it for strength.

  20. I stood under the moon full of hope and wonder last week, anticipating the arrival of our baby girl. I prayed and meditated on the beauty and fullness of that gorgeous moon as I walked and called down God's strength. A week later, she has not arrived (Sat. was my due date) and I admit I feel my energy and hope waning just as the moon has. Last week I was so spiritually ready for the wonder and miracle of birth, and yesterday I felt physically and emotionally fragmented….more like a sliver of the moon. And yet I maintain the vision of that full moon and know that each day I must ask God to complete me, and to compensate for the ways I fall short of that fullness and glory. I am so grateful for the cycles in our own lives that are types of our relationships with deity and His plan for us.

    So, I long to finish the creation I have been working on for 9 months :-), and I find stillness when I breathe, express gratitude and trust, and when I take quiet time to remember those deeply spiritual things God has taught me through His still small voice.


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