"Did you see the moon?"
My husband's voice rose above the rhythmic pounding of our feet as we wound our way through the deserted park in the early morning stillness. I lifted my eyes to the darkened sky punctuated with sparkling points of starlight. There, hanging almost shyly just above the roofs of the houses bordering the neighborhood park was the slightest sliver of a moon glowing a soft, pale orange. It was so slight, in fact, it could have been easily missed in the great expanse of darkness. It occurred to me that maybe that is what it hoped, that it could escape notice as it made its journey across the sky and disappeared into the light of day. Perhaps it was focused, not on impressing others with its brilliance, but simply on completing the course that it had been set to follow.
And perhaps it did not understand just how beautiful it really was, for this was not the moon that prompts people to exclaim, "Did you see the moon last night?" That is a question usually reserved for the biggest, flashiest of full moons. But how much do we miss when all we notice is the biggest and the brightest?
It is easy to recognize those who stand out the most. But what about the ones who hang quietly back? Do we see the beauty that they, too, contribute to the world? Or are we too busy being dazzled by the ones who put on a grandiose display? Which ones do we praise and compliment and congratulate on a job well done? And which ones do we fail to fully appreciate for their gentle gifts that they quietly offer?
These thoughts churned in my mind as our walk took us in a direction that turned our backs to the moon. As I contemplated these ideas I saw the faces of my students: the ones who shine brightly and the ones who provide a softer glow; the ones society will acknowledge and the ones that it will either pass over or want to "fix," molding them to fit their own vision of what is valuable.
As we turned toward home, the moon once again came into view. It was higher now, having continued on its journey as I continued on mine. My eyes lingered on that slight little sliver of moon and I smiled. It didn't need to be any bigger or any brighter. It had a gift no full moon could offer. It was perfect just the way it was.