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The Paschal Full Moon

Kelly had spent the whole morning, when he would have preferred to be off playing baseball with the guys, trailing around behind his mother as she gathered some odd things she seemed to think she needed.  He wasn’t particularly interested in her market basket of assorted things from this grocery store.  But he soon began to notice that they were not the regular, oh, milk and bread and veggies and stuff like that.

There were several cartons of the same old eggs though, just lots more than usual.  That might mean she was going to do some baking.  Hmm, who’s birthday was coming up.  Not mine its months away.  

Suddenly the cart got interesting.  Mother dropped in the king size bag of jelly beans and followed it with two boxes of chocolate covered, egg shaped,  peanut butter cups, and some food dye.

Easter that’s it!  Now let me think. Just when is Easter?  That fun day with egg hunts and baskets filled with goodies doesn’t stand still in one spot like other holidays do.  

Kelly began to look around the store and noticed shelves full of bunnies, stuffed fluffy rabbits, painted porcelain ones, balloons with Easter rabbits wearing happy smiles bouncing on sticks, above the expensive, fancy, boxed chocolate rabbits standing on a table all alone.  Yes he was right.  It was almost Easter!

As soon as they got home he dashed into his bedroom and sat at his computer to Google up Easter and find out when it would be here.

According to his first screen info, Easter was on the first Sunday, after the Paschal, pronounced Pas-kul, moon following the Vernal Equinox., sometime between April 4th, and May 8th and it repeats every 19 years!  

With all of that information Kelly sank back in his chair mumbling, “What the heck does that mean?”   After a few moments he picked up his dictionary and looked up Vernal and learned that it meant Spring.  Well why didn’t  they just say so?   

Okay, Spring what?   He looked up Equinox and read that they are the two times in the year when the sun crosses the equator.  In the Spring, about March 21st and in the Fall, about September 23.  What is all of this “about” stuff?

At least I know what the equator is.  We just talked about that in school.  He recited softly to himself… “The equator is that imaginary circle around the Earth at an equal distance between the North and South Poles.”

Now how do I figure out Easter from that?  He looked at the large Boy Scout Calendar that his troop sold last November and turned to April.

  And there it was!  Easter!  Right on April 20th this year.   I should have done this in the first place! 

 Hmm.. Kelly looked back at the computer screen and then to the Calendar and to Sunday the 20th.  He drew his finger back through the days back … back…    A full moon was shown to be on April 15th.  Then that must be the Paschal Moon and 19 years from now it will be on that date again.  Oh right… am I supposed to  remember that!  He chuckled. 

Well at least he had found out just when that tricky Easter is coming without asking an adult.  He felt smug about that.  He stood and stretched and went to the window to check out the sky.  It was clear and the sun was still high.  He hoped it would be this clear tonight.  I will look out again tonight anyway, he decided, because today is Wednesday, April 15, the date for a full Paschal Moon.  Wow! He didn’t want to miss that!

After helping Mom carry all that loot into the kitchen, Kelly left the house to look for a baseball game at the park, repeating in his head as he jogged along….

“The first Sunday, after the first full moon, following the Vernal Equinox,  March 21st.”  Anyway, I will always remember that!  It has a kind of a rhythm to it.  

Just before he left Kelly did something he kind of knew he should not do but…  because of the Paschal Moon he did it anyway.  He took the tall ladder out and climbed up to the outdoor patio lights and gave each one twist to loosen it.  He then tried the ON switch in the garage.  Sure enough, no light.

Now Kelly was sure the back yard would be darker tonight, so he could really enjoy sitting and listening for that special moon to come over.   He would tighten those lights again before Mom and Dad’s Weekend Party.

The green Park had seven of his fellow baseball lovers scattered in a large flat field, standing out in various positions playing, Work Up.  He took a position on the flat grass and called out loudly, “Eight!”  Meaning he just took the eighth position to work himself from the back to the front where the batter stood as number two then on to number one, the pitcher and back to the out-field where the thick growth of trees defined the edge and among the trees meant out of bounds or, on some days, a home run.  Usually they didn’t run at all, but just got a lot of practice pitching, hitting, catching, and throwing. 

The next two guys struck out and Kelly moved two positions over to the left.  Then he saw that Hayden was going up to bat, so he moved deep to the edge of the forest.  This might be a good chance to catch a ball as this kid was a very strong hitter.  

Sure enough on the first pitch, just the sound of the hard crack told Kelly that the ball would be flying  He looked up to track the direction.”Good Work Hayden the ball was sailing right toward him.  Kelly began to back almost into the trees” , but it passed him by, hit a trunk high up, bounced to a second trunk and ricocheted in another direction from the third deeper out of sight.  

Everyone in the game stood waiting for Kelly to go find it. Play was stopped as this was their only ball.

He stepped lightly over the pine needles and assorted dry leaves, trying to locate the base ball without burying it deeper.  There it was next to an Aspen tree.  As he bent to pick it up , a slightly familiar voice said,  

“No.  This ball is mine.   That is your ball over there by the oak sapling.    Hey! Is that you Kelly?  It’s been a long time.”

“Where are you?  It’s so dark in these trees that I can’t see you.”

“Your people eyes never can.  But we met in your yard last year and shared a baseball.  Remember?”

“Shadow Boy! Sure I remember.  Good to see you… I mean hear you again.  Where did you go?”

“Everywhere, but your house after you put in those terrible night lights.”

“I didn’t, my Dad did.  But this morning I unscrewed them so I could see the Paschal Moon tonight.”

“Ah yes the Blood Moon after the Vernal Equinox.  We celebrate that too.”

“You do… How?”

“I’ll tell you about it tonight if your lights are really off.  But look your buddies are coming to look for you and the ball.  Here take mine and have some fun with it again.”   Kelly pocketed his ball and took Shadow Boy’s “No-one else can hit it Ball” the same one they shared for a time last year.”   He quickly stepped out of the shelter of the trees and tossed the “Shadow Boy’s Ball” to Sol, the farthest boy away.  It really flew and Sol of course, missed it and blamed that on my lousy throw.

“Great miss, Shadow Ball.!”   Kelly called out

“What did you say, Kelly” Hayden shouted from his new position as out-fielder .

“uhh,  I said, “Great miss, Batter Sol.” 

 Then they all walked to their next positions.  Kelly noticed the expected… that no one had been able to hit that Magic Ball, but he caught it on every return. 

It felt like a dirty trick to be playing on someone who didn’t even know there was such a thing as a Magic Ball that can only be hit or caught by its owner.  So the next time that Magic thing came his way he switched back to the regular ball and everyone made great improvements and immediately began feeling better about themselves, but playing fair felt especially good to Kelly.

That night Kelly kept watch for the full Moon making its appearance from behind the Eastern Foothills.  The sky was still clear, just as he hoped and he took a light blanket out to the chaise for his late night viewing.  

With the Magic Ball placed almost hidden under the garage side bushes, just as they both hid it and the Magic Bat last year, as they regularly traded them from Day use for Kelly to Night use for Shadow Boy.

Kelly always enjoyed looking at his familiar stars that he knew by name, as they slid by slowly letting the full Moon catch up from behind them.  

The yard Shadows deepened. And he smiled at how they used to frighten him, as he thought  they were scary monsters when he was much younger.  

Kelly looked at the garage to see if the Magic Ball was still in place.  If it was gone he would know that the Shadow Boy had arrived.  He knew his old friend the Shadow Boy would visit tonight, not just because the full Moon caused deeper Shadows, but to retrieve the Magic Ball he had so nicely lent to him.  

He had used it last year to make himself look good and get him accepted by the other boys, but odd as it seems, this time the trick only made him feel bad about fooling his buddies, so he stopped using it and would not borrow that Ball again.

Now he looked forward to hearing how the Shadows celebrated Easter, or as Shadow Boy called it, “ The Night of the Blood Moon.”

 A bolt of bright orange light shot between the peaks and Kelly watched it gently, quietly, grow into a huge pumpkin colored Moon.  He had never seen it look quite that deep color.  Was that why the Shadows called it the Blood Moon?    He shifted his eyes to where the Ball was placed.  It was still there.

Anxious to greet Shadow Boy, Kelly tried to turn his mind to Easter and the questions that he may need to answer if he expects Shadow Boy to tell him about his traditions. So he wondered, exactly how did he celebrate that holiday? 

Well the truth is he was a child and really didn’t do anything. Either the Easter bunny did it or his Parents did it all.  

They always helped the children dye the hard boiled eggs all of those pretty colors for the Easter Bunny to bring to him and his sister.  There were other eggs in the basket too, little jelly beans and larger chocolate eggs and even plastic eggs that opened and could contain more candy, but sometimes money, almost always at least one chocolate rabbit that he took a week to nibble down to nothing.  He smiled at that memory.

But suddenly he frowned.  Kelly jumped to the question he was sure to be asked.  Why all of those eggs?  Rabbits don’t lay eggs! Shouldn’t an Easter Chicken bring them?   How would he answer that ?  It hadn’t even ever occurred to him to wonder.   

And another thing, why do they sometimes hide the eggs and make us go through the yard finding them?  Who dreamed that idea up? And why?

If  Easter is a religious holiday, and it is, because we all get nice  new clothes to wear to Church on that Sunday and the ladies and girls wear fancy hats that they don’t wear on other Sundays.  Why was that?  He thought of a couple of reasons but, well…   So okay, that is all very good, but what do rabbits, eggs and baskets of candy have to do with anything?

Kelly was so deep in trying to answer his own questions about their own Holiday that he failed to notice that the Shadow Boy had taken his Ball and did not stop to visit with him.  Why ?  Perhaps he got sick or something and had a friend or adult get his Magic Ball for him.  He hoped that wasn’t it.

Waiting for the full Moon and wondering about the why of everything Kelly had fallen asleep.  The next thing he knew his Mom was waking him up to guide her sleepy son to his real bedroom.  He followed her while half asleep and didn’t waken until the sun was bright in that same window. 

The day was so beautiful that he couldn’t work up any disappointment about missing the Paschal Moon.  It will be almost as big tonight. 

As he was eating his scrambled eggs for breakfast he recalled the questions he had been stymied by last night.  Why an Easter Rabbit and not a Chicken?  So as soon as he was finished breakfast, he hurried to his computer to open Google and ask.

What he learned was that the entire set of questions he posed actually had nothing what so ever to do with our Easter at all.  

Long before Christianity,  Rabbits and Eggs had been part of Ancient Beliefs that were celebrated in the Spring Solstice, because rabbits had such a high birth rate and eggs represented fertility.  

Of course, Spring itself is symbolic of the Earth’s rebirth after the cold barren winter.   Plants grow fresh leaves and flowers and the world looks green and beautiful once more every Spring.  Baby birds are singing and the sun is shining in blue skies.   

There are mentions of these odd symbols as early as the 13th Century. They were carried to America in the 17th Century by the German immigrants and joined with other newer Spring Solstice Religious beliefs.

Kelly thought about that a minute. Shadow people may have the exact same celebrations as ours, but be doing them for their own very different reasons. Just as so many of our religions do different Spring  Solstice ceremonies. 

    Okay I get it.  Kelly told himself, people really like things that are fun and happy, so they continue doing them long after anyone remembers why.  He signed satisfied with his new information. That is all I need to know for now.  He closed the computer and headed for the Park.

After a long busy day, an exhausted Kelly went gladly to bed in his own bedroom instead of spending half the night sitting outside on the chaise.  That was why he was so surprised when the Moon awakened him after midnight by shining through his window again.  He got up and sat at the window listening to the Moon, who was almost as full but not as orange as last night.

The Moon told Kelly that he appreciated the message he had sent to the 

Space people and he could tell that it had some impact.  Kelly hadn’t noticed it, but he knew the Moon was smarter, so didn’t question it.  

Kelly did ask the Moon if the Shadow Boy had been around tonight, and was surprised to learn that his friend was out there right now.  

Excited by that news, Kelly dashed out dragging his robe behind him with his slippers in his hands.  He pulled himself together as he headed for the tree where they often used to talk.  

The Shadow Boy was swinging on a light branch and whistling a happy tune.  Kelly found a stiff, heavy branch to sit upon.  He was very much heavier than Shadow Boy, who weighed almost nothing, then whistled along with him to the end of the song,   In the quiet time he asked the Shadow Boy why he didn’t visit him last night.   

“Well, you were asleep.  We are taught to not wake up sleeping people.  Some say it is dangerous.  I really don’t know why, but that is the way it is.”

“I understand.” Kelly told him.  “ I heard that it is not safe to waken a Sleep Walker.  I don’t know why either.  I should think a person would like to know when they are walking about in their night clothes looking silly.”

“I guess it’s the same thing.  But just in case it was true, I asked the Moon to waken you tonight.  He said he did it all the time and it did nothing  but good for both of you.”

“The Moon does occasionally wake me from my sleep, but the Sun does that very same thing every day in the morning.”

“Oh my!  That thought really frightens me.  If the Sun were to wake me up  I would disappear forever…  I think.   Always when those first early warning Photons begin to pop around, before daylight, I split away from the area just to be safe.  Are you afraid of anything?”  Kelly tried to think about what he was afraid of.  Then he laughed.

“I was once afraid of you… when I was much younger and didn’t know you.”   He had to think some more and sat wondering if monsters still counted as he had not been afraid of them lately either. “ Sometimes I get afraid when I have to take a test in school.  I am afraid of failure.”

“That doesn’t count.”  Shadow Boy told Kelly,  “Because if you did the work you wouldn’t be afraid.  So it is too easy to prevent that one.  Study and you have nothing to worry you. “

‘That is true.  But I worry about…”

“No, No, worry and afraid are two very different things.  The question is, “ What are you afraid of. And don’t say lions and tigers!” 

“If I can’t claim to be afraid of things with big, sharp, teeth, then I will have to give up and say… Nothing!  I am not afraid of anything.  But don’t ask me what I worry about because that is one very long list.”  But even Kelly had to laugh at some of the dumb little things he worried about.  

His Mother was always reminding him,  “Don’t worry the small stuff.”

Then if I want to know how to tell the big stuff from the small stuff, she just smiles and says,

“Everything is small stuff.”  

“I sure do wish I could believe that.”

“Well I would say, if your Mother says so it must be so.”  Shadow Boy told him.  So Kelly asked him…

“ What does your mother say to you?”

“Just like your Mother.  Her same advice every night I go out.  She always reminds me to watch out for Photons and be home before Moon set.  Or Sun rise, which ever is first.  They change you know.”  

“I sure do! And do you do as your Mother says??”  Kelly asked,

“Well, If you don’t see me for awhile it means I have been shaded for the week. “

“What is that?”   Kelly wondered.

“I think you call it grounded.  If I am shaded, I am too bright to hide in the shadows and must stay indoors.  And I already explained what happens when I leave the deep shadows.” 

“You did last year when you told me why you could never go into a building like my house.  Something like you might reach light and if you do get struck by light you just go poof and are gone.”

“Pretty close.  Shadow rules are very strict.  But we do okay if we abide by them.  As you know we do have some Magic on our side.”

“Yes I wish we had some of your Magic.”

Why when yours is so much better?  Light is your Magic.  So appreciate it.”  Kelly thought about it for a few seconds.  

“Yes, you are right.  The Sun and the light are pretty good things to have.  I will remember what you said. “  Then Kelly tried very hard to try to see into the dark.  As he wondered what the Shadow Boy looked like.  But his eyes needed the light to see and so he still did not know. But he heard or felt the Boy drop from the swinging branch. 

“With your eyes you can see pale sky over that far ridge of the foot hills where the sun shines.  I can feel the Photons collecting, so I must leave.  Soon you will recognize the sun’s rays shining from beyond those hills that guard the light from me.”

“Will you be back?”  Kelly asked.

“We often go to the other side of the Moon where the sun never shines. But there is not much to do over there.  If we play baseball the ball travels so far in the thin atmosphere that we get sick of chasing after it.  Hopping around is easy and fun for a little while but gets boring.  I like Earth better. Anyway after a rest or vacation we come right back here, even though here we must be alert to face the light danger.”  The leaves rustled as he moved away, but Kelly still heard faintly… “We will meet again often.”   

Kelly could feel the silence of being alone.  He sighed and with a new appreciation of his life with Sunlight, which he took for granted and failed to give thanks for.  Perhaps he will add the Sun to his good night prayer after tonight.