Time passes by so fast. This evening marked the beginning of the New Islamic Year, Year 1430. Tonight being the first evening of the month of Muharram and tomorrow the first full day. The Islamic calendar is one based on the lunar cycle. Each of the 12 lunar months is marked by sighting the new crescent moon. Three times out of the year it is a big deal throughout the Muslim world with the start and end of Ramadan, the month of fasting, and with the start of the 12th month in the year which is the month of Pilgrimage. For the rest of the year, the moons go pretty much un-noticed except for a handful of dedicated die-hard moon-sighters.
I however have made a point to go out and search for the new moon every month since 1990. Some months I see the moon and other months I don’t. And I don’t always get a photo, even though it was photographing the moon that got me interested in and steeped in photography to begin with. I had marked this day, the 28th of December in my calendar from one month ago at the last moon sighting trip and ingrained that date in my head. It came upon me quicker than I thought. Then a few days ago, with the 28th a brainworm in my head, I forgot why the 28th was important and for some reason I thought 28th was a Monday. Then about a half an hour before sunset TODAY it suddenly occured to me that this evening was the night for seeking out the moon.
As I scrambled to gather myself and my gear I realized that there would not be enough time to make out to my usual location for sighting the moon. As I raced down the street to the gas station to fill up before my ascent to Skyline Hwy along the main ridgeline of the Santa Cruz Mountains, I decided to take my chances and stay right there in town and hope that I would be able to see it above the mountains’ skyline. So I gassed up the truck and then drove a whopping 150 yards and pulled into the neighborhood shopping center, parked and pulled out my camera gear and prepared for the show. Twenty minutes later, faintly appearing in the sky the crescent emerged, and even though I have seen countless new moons, it was just as spectacular as any that I have ever witnessed. As the evening progressed and the moon slowly sank closer and closer to the skyline one of its neighbors in the sky, Mercury, appeared to join the moon and usher in the new year.
I then thought how amazing it is that the new Islamic year begins with such a heavenly event. It saddened me to think that most of world in a few short days would be celebrating the new Gregorian year at loud heedless parties in a semi-drunken stupor. No heavenly event would take place marking the new year, only the click of the mechanized hands of the clock, an invention of our own making, and then we would continue to party making more and more noise until we either pass out drunk or finally give up to fatigue. In contrast, even though I was standing in the middle of a bustling city, all was silent as that moon made its way to the horizon. In all the grandure of the universe, I again remembered that a simple event like the appearance of the moon and witnessing it come into existence links me with all of it. Its both humbling and enriching at the same time. I never tire of feeling like I am a part of something greater than myself, and grateful to the One who made it all, that I could be there and to share it with everyone else.
Happy New Year and Peace to All!